Free Women's Reproductive Rights In A Diasporic Community Research Paper Sample
Type of paper: Research Paper
Topic: Health, Women, Culture, Community, Health Care, Pregnancy, Family, Law
Women reproductive health is an essential topic of discussion as it serves as a measure of economic growth. Every time the issues of women are addressed, it reflects on the economic growth of the country. Over the years, women liberalization has been addressed with the hope of giving women a chance to participate and contribute on issues of national development. In this paper, we shall be focusing on the issue of women reproductive rights in a diasporic community. The paper is based on a number of researches that have been conducted to find out the situation of immigrant women and their issues of reproductive health. The topic of study had been considered of vital interest due to a number of challenges that woman in the Diaspora face. Unlike those in theory home communities, those in the Diaspora may be neglected by laws due to their cultural practices. Most of the decisions that are taken by such women are hence based on their personal convictions or the advice they get from external sources.
Reproductive laws are usually made in consideration of the cultural values of a society, which may differ from one region to the other. For instance, there are regions that offer free maternal health care facilities for women due to the health crisis in their regions. A woman brought up in such a society may find it difficult to adjust in a different are where there are no laws that motivate them to visit health care facilities for the sake of their reproductive health. Some women also come from cultural backgrounds where they are used to indigenous methods of reproductive health and hence finding it difficult to survive in civilized environments where they are not able to access such facilities. Being foreigners and immigrants, their current governments may not care much about their reproductive health, mainly because they are not factored in their laws and programs.
There are various reasons that make women migrate from their native regions to the Diaspora. Some may be compelled by their situations while others are sent for some special assignment. While those who go there willingly may do so with the willingness to adjust to their laws, others who were compelled to go there may not be ready for the changes. In fact, some of them migrate illegally and hence have no legal documents that can make them freely access they facilities of the country. Apart from their lack of valid documents, the fear of being discriminated and ill treated in health care facilities makes most of them shy away from such facilities. They will therefore rely on counter medicines and some of the traditional ways to take care of their health, with the hope that all will go well. A seminar that was conducted on women reproductive right in diasporic communities revealed shocking results of women who were neglected in health care (Petchesky 187).
Every woman knows the importance of maintaining a good reproductive health, yet many are have limited knowledge on how do it in a foreign country. Women realize that the beliefs and practices they had towards the use of contraceptives, the number of children to have and the available treatment procedures are different from what they believed. Those who have the privilege to go to health care facilities are likely to differ with health care providers concerning the decisions they have to make on their reproductive health. They realize that they completely have no right to choose what they want once they give themselves to the care of a healthcare practitioner. Such conflicts usually discourage many women in diasporic communities from seeking healthcare facilities (Ramirez & Elizabeth 12-15). Depending on their cultural background, they are usually termed as illiterate and ill informed of their reproductive health. This hence implies that they go back and follow what they believed, or accept the remedies that are imposed to them by the health care providers.
Apart from the issues of family planning, a culture shock is also experienced in the area of when and how to have their children. Some women may come from communities where abortion is prohibited by the laws. The women are therefore confused when they get into environments where they are told that they can always abort, if they feel not ready for the child. Such issues especially rise out of pressure from their communities where families have little families. They recognize the fact that family planning methods can fail them, but yet does not compel them to keep the pregnancy when they were not ready for it in the first place. The pressure therefore leaves women with the decision to either terminate the pregnancy if they were not ready for it or stick to their traditions that prohibit such practices (Sargent 35). The problem however comes when they are segregated because of holding on to traditions that do not make sense in their countries of residence.
Apart from regional laws that govern and protect women reproductive health, there are other aspects such as their spouses and traditional believes that influence the choice of a productive health. Women from conservative communities and more especially Muslims rely much on the views of their husbands before reaching certain decisions. The research revealed that only few Muslim women that have been exposed understand the importance of family planning and hence not relying on their culture in making such decisions. Others however, believe that their husbands are their overall authority, even in matters that concern their reproductive health. This hence implies that they will remain rigid to their culture, even if it is proving harmful to their health. To them religion comes before any decision they make concerning their reproductive health. It is for this reason that many of them will even have to seek permission from their husbands on the choice of contraceptives or whether to visit a healthcare facility or not.
It is unfortunate that some women still leave the vital role of making decisions of their reproductive health to people that cant empathize wit their feelings. Despite the awareness that has been going around on the importance of reproductive health, some women are still bound in their selfish cultural believes that limits them on the decisions to make pertaining to their reproductive health. It was realized that involving a small section of the community in women reproductive health may not achieve the required results. When it comes to training on reproductive health, women have been the main target not considering other aspects such as culture and spouses that influence their decisions. It will hence only be reasonable when the other cultural influences are considered in creating such awareness. For instance, when the target of women reproductive health is on Muslim women, then the men should be included in such awareness strategies. In fact, they should be the main target groups considering the authority they have on their women and their culture of marrying many women (Kalra, Raminder & John 18).
Other issues that have become of major concern in addressing reproductive health for immigrant women are domestic violence, sexual assault and even rape. Women, and more especially who are taken from their countries of origin in search of better lives end up in environments where they are defenseless. They are abused and taken advantage of, yet have no proper channels where they can voice their concerns. The fact that they lack such channels, many continue to suffer in silence and their percentage cannot even be accounted for. Their lives, including that of their reproductive health is at the mercy of their employers, who may careless about them. They are confided in houses and dumped when their health has deteriorated. The fate acts as their only rescue opportunity, yet it may be too late for them to recover to their better self. Women who have gone through rape and every form of abuse may not value their reproductive health, which exposes them to risks of unwanted pregnancies, abortion, prostitution and sexually transmitted infections including HIV/Aids.
Early marriages are another hindrance to women reproductive health in diasporic communities. Culture can be considered to be a deep rooted disease that is carried by people, even once they are out of their cultural environments. They tend to carry such behaviors to their new locations without understanding their implications. As strange as it may seem to a modern man, there are people who marry off their girls at an early age without preparing them for responsibilities that come with motherhood. This is hence a blind observance of culture in a society where it is not applicable. For instance, in communities where early marriages are practiced, there are usually avenues that will assist the girls to grow and accept their responsibilities. There are usually older women who overseer their activities and provide the necessary advice. However, when such is replicated in a different environment, it becomes difficult for the girls, who have to rely on guesswork as they handle issues of reproductive health. The young girls are caught up in situations where they have to make decisions; they don’t even know what is right for them (Dudgeon, & Marcia 1388). They may not know what to do to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or the decisions to make when they are expectant and lactating.
Women reproductive health rights are limited by a number of factors that can only be addressed strategically by the inclusion of various stakeholders. Maternal health is paramount in determining the productivity of a nation. When such issues are ignored, or left only for a few people, then women will continue to suffer in ignorance and hence affecting their productivity. In as much as cultural beliefs remain to be one of the hindering factors of creating awareness; it is also an important consideration in promoting the debate. This will depend on how it is approached and handled. In a society where modern approaches to issues of maternal health are not yielding much fruit, then cultural strategies have to be used. The strategies are necessary in opening up communities to issues that affect women and hence devising collective strategies that will save the health of a woman.
Dudgeon, Matthew R., and Marcia C. Inhorn. "Men's influences on women's reproductive health: medical anthropological perspectives." Social science & medicine 59.7 (2004): 1379-1395.
Kalra, Virinder, Raminder Kaur, and John, Hutnyk. Diaspora and hybridity. Sage, 2005.
Petchesky, Rosalind P. "Negotiating reproductive rights: women's perspectives across countries and cultures." Reproductive Health Matters 6.11 (1998): 186-189.
Ramirez, Francisco O., and Elizabeth H. McEneaney. "From Women's Suffrage to Reproduction Rights? Cross-National Considerations'." International Journal of Comparative Sociology 38.1 (1997): 6-24.
Sargent, Carolyn F. "Reproductive strategies and islamic discourse." Medical anthropology quarterly 20.1 (2006): 31-49.