The obsession of middle class with the sexuality of poor is very amusing. ‘Population control’ is one such idea propagated by the fancy middle-class activists and socialite academicians. According to them, we are too many, and earth doesn’t have resources to support that many. Of course, we are too many. Don’t give this crap of resource restriction. Resources are restricted because some of us are consuming more than the others. Mukesh Amban’s three children- two sons and one daughter, have higher carbon footprint than all the children in one of the many bastis in Bangalore. Further, these progressive crooks believe that poverty and inequality are perpetuated by higher population. That is a ridiculous logic.Inequality and poverty have structural reasons behind them. ‘Population explosion’ is not even a reference point for that discussion.
They’ll talk about the reproductive rights of poor women and force tubectomy and other sterilization procedure down the throat of women, without asking whether they need it or not. ‘Bache Do Hi Acche‘ -what if she wants to have three or four children. What do you do in that case? It is an assertion of her right to have as many children as she wants. Who are you to decide the number of children? There is no disagreement that women are exploited by men and sometimes forced into sex, which results in pregnancy. Tubectomy will not stop that exploitation. When there are larger issues of exploitation at hand, we manage to prefer dealing with symptoms. If she wants to go for tubectomy, it should be her choice. It is an odd option when there are other possibilities of avoiding pregnancy.
These fellows celebrate Chinese ‘one child policy’, without knowing what it did to sex ratio in China. China like India is a patriarchal society, most preferred male child over a female child. Thus, increasing the difference in sex ratio. There are many unaccounted daughters of China, who’ve been killed, abandoned or not registered because parents wanted a male child, their only progeny. In the book ‘China Wakes’ by journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudun, the chapter named- ‘Where have all the babies gone’, Sheryl Wudun probes the myth around the success of population control measures and how it disproportionately affected the female presence in the society and became an anti-women measure. It will be worth studying how population control measures in India affected sex ratio in India. We too are a patriarchal society and prefer a boy over a girl and will prefer two boys over one girl and one boy or two girls.
As a matter of fact, population tends to stabilize over a period of time, with good public healthcare and social protection cushion in place. Poor produce more children so that they’ve someone take care of them in old age. This is something a waste-picker colleague told me. Poor aspire their children to be educated. If there is a good free public education system which provides for both quality education and nutrition, these children may not become a burden on parents. They’ll be an asset for the nation. And if we have a robust healthcare and old-age welfare system, many may not even want to have children as they know that will be taken care of.
Similarly, there is an ever-increasing obsession with the menstrual hygiene of poor women. Periods are a topic of taboo. Instead of confronting the problem. We’ve many start-ups which are engaging in the distribution of sanitary pads to women. Sanitary pads are rich in chemicals, they have a high potential of causing allergies. There is the environmental cost of sanitary pads. No one talks about their disposal. These pads are dumped indiscriminately and there are sanitary workers, who have to sort them out, forced to manually engage in managing the human biological waste. These things are never kept in mind before making interventions. The other solution they come up to deal with the sanitary pads is the installation of mini-incinerators, which again is an environmental disaster. All this is happening, when we already have many alternative options, from Goonj’s re-usable pads (after washing) to she-cups. These solutions don’t attract Corporate Social Responsibility Funds of big companies and are innovated by small entrepreneurs, so not seen as a solution at all.
Time has come for poor to take control of their own sexuality and not require ‘any interventions’ of these mediocre activists from NGs and academicians. They can choose to have children and they can choose not to have children. They can choose to have sanitary pads, they can choose to have old cloth system, where sanitary cloth/cloth pad is washed and kept in sun and can be used again. It’s important to challenge the core issues of sexual exploitation, patriarchy than to deal with the symptoms. Advocating for a robust public health care and social protection system, considerate of gender dimensions, is a better starting point than pursuing vasectomy and tubectomy (let that be a voluntary measure, an informed choice), and we need to also ask ourselves whether do we need that in the first place when there are many other options to avoid unwanted pregnancy.