Government Control Of The Female Body

1896 words - 8 pages

Government Control of the Female Body

Internationally, issues revolving around the female body and reproduction are extremely controversial. For a woman, her body is a very private matter. At the same time, however, a woman's body and her reproduction rights are the center of attention in many public debates. Several questions regarding women's reproductive rights remain unanswered. How much control do women have over their bodies? What kind of rules can be morally imposed upon women? And who controls the bodies of women? Although the public continues to debate these topics, certain conclusions can been made concerning women and their reproductive rights. An undeniable fact is that government has a large degree of control over female reproductive organs. All around the world, time and time again, several national governments have implemented policies, enacted laws, and denied women control over their reproductive organs. Several governments have crossed the border between intimate and public matters concerning women's reproductive organs, by making laws about contraceptives, abortion, and family planning programs.

Perhaps the most discrete manner in which government intervenes in women's reproductive rights is through family planning. Several governments have spent billions of dollars annually to implement family planning programs. Family planning includes sex, contraceptive, and parenting education. Although many family planning programs are viewed as a method of education, some governments have used the programs as a means of controlling the bodies of women and their nation's population.

In Indonesia, for instance, The Agency for International Development (AID) reported that the Indonesian family planning program did little for civil liberties, but did facilitate population control (Hartmann 161). A strong hierarchical power structure exists in their government, relying far less on direct coercion and more on subtle forms of paternalism and social pressure. The top government officials produce a compliant behavior down the administrative line to the individual peasants. The responsibility of contraceptive use is put into the hands of the authority figures dealing with the village people on a daily basis.

The motto of the Indonesian family planning program has a great impact on the struggling individuals in the Indonesian society. It states that with two children, "We are a happy and prosperous family" (Hartmann 60). For a poor landless and unemployed family, however, limiting fertility is a hardship and does not promote happiness and prosperity. Poor families thrive on large families because it creates more workers and therefore, more earned income for the family. Supporters of the Indonesian family program contend that governmental pressure is necessary in order to get individuals to use the right means of birth control. In the long-run, the Indonesian Government believes they are only creating benefits for the families'...

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