Does Men's Involvement in Family Planning Threaten Women's Reproductive Rights?: A Case of Kurdish Rural-Urban Migrant Women in Turkey

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 54
Oral Presentation
Miki SUZUKI HIM , Sociology, Ondokuz Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey
Ayşe GÜNDÜZ HOşGÖR , Sociology, Middle East Technichal University, Ankara, Turkey
This study discusses the issue of men’s involvement in birth control in Turkey. An argument is based on our research of Kurdish women’s experiences of contraceptive practices. Data were collected by in-depth interviews with forty women in a low-income rural-urban migrant neighbourhood in an East Anatolian city Van between February and July in 2008. In Turkey, fertility rate has declined to near-replacement levels in recent years yet the use of traditional method, that is, withdrawal continues to be among the highest in the world. Recent studies suggest men’s direct (practicing withdrawal or using condoms) and indirect (influencing women’s use and choice of contraceptive method) involvement in birth control. However, we do not know whether men’s involvement has positive or negative impacts on women’s empowerment. In the neighbourhood we studied, contraception was generally women’s responsibility yet they experienced difficulties in accessing and effectively using contraceptives because of their gender disadvantages. Nonetheless, there were a few women who were successful in birth control. They were not very different from the other women in terms of economic, educational and familial statuses yet their husbands were actively involved in birth control directly or indirectly. One of them, however, wanted more children but were using an intrauterine device because of the husband’s request. Meanwhile, many women considered that their husbands should take more responsibility in family planning because of their experiences of failing contraception and seeing those women who successfully limit their births with the help of their husbands. Based on our case study, this presentation discusses a paradox of men’s involvement in birth control and asks explorative questions that whether men’s involvement risks women’s reproductive rights or whether feminist politics should support men’s involvement for the sake of women’s health if women can practice birth control more effectively by men’s involvement.