Worried Lives: Poverty, Gender, and Reproductive Health for Adolescent Women in a Slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Sabina Faiz Rashid, BRAC

This is an anthropological study exploring the reproductive health needs of married adolescent women. Fieldwork was carried out in an urban slum [basti] in Dhaka, Bangladesh for 14 months with a survey of 150 young women, 50 repeated in depth interviews, and 8 case studies. I argue that it is critical to understand broader macro and micro factors which shape vulnerability to understandings, experiences and responses to reproductive health problems. Young women construct a political economy of the body in order to survive, gain advantages and power and manage under conditions of extreme poverty, thus putting their bodies and health at risk. This research gives an insight into the situations in which adolescent women make decisions surrounding marriage, fertility, childbearing etc, within the socio-economic constraints that surround them and the larger structural conditions which govern their lives.

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Presented in Session 119: Adolescent Reproductive Health in Asia and the Near East