Ethnography Report I

1199 words - 5 pages

Catherine Maternowska’s study of family planning takes place in one of the world’s poorest slums Cité Soleil in Haiti. Cité Soleil is a dirty and violent place. The main concern of the residents is survival; however, due to political instability it’s been a struggle. Duvalier family ruled Haiti for a long time, and poor people were often target of violence. Duvalier dictatorship was followed by democracy and new president Aristide. However, it all came to an end pretty soon, and those supporting democracy and Aristide were punished by beating, or even by death. Due to political reasons and events it was tough for Maternowska to access the field. Women have lower status than men, and ...view middle of the document...

The paradox in Haiti is that there is a great demand for fewer children, but the use of contraceptives stays low and fertility rates remain high. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) tried to improve family planning by providing wide selection of methods but had no success. One problem is the way international development consultants operate in Haiti. Their offices are located and meetings take place in beautiful hotels, far away from the reality of dirty, dangerous, smelly, and disorganized streets full of beggars. The consultants seldom visit the field; they are isolated from the reality and so is their research.
Another problem affecting fertility resides in gender dynamic inside the household. Majority of residents of Cité Soleil live in extremely poor conditions. Women do not enter into relationships with men for love, but because unions help them survive. It is completely acceptable for men to have multiple partners, but women are required to have only one partner. Women do not have as much freedom as men, and some of them believe their rights are violated by it. Women are demanded to take care of the house and children (washing, ironing, cooking, etc.), while men should bring money to the family. However, it became more difficult to get a job for men; therefore, they need distractions such as alcohol, domino, or lottery. They also have to find different ways to prove their superior position, and sexual relations are the primary means to maintain their identity. Men possess the power in the household; they tell their wives what to do; they do not ask them. If women fail in performing their domestic duties, they become a subject to violence. The inability of men to bring money leads some women to providing sex for cash. During these sexual encounters, no protection is used because women do not have the right to require it. Sexual services do not only humiliate women, but also impact fertility rates and increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Family planning is seen as a form of empowerment for women, giving them control over their bodies and lives. Men do not like it because it is threatening their power and status. They refuse to wear condoms and women can do nothing about it. Woman using contraceptive is also seen as “spoiled” and men do not want her anymore. That is the main reason for not using family planning.
The failure of family planning is also driven by relationships between the providers and the clients. Women coming to the clinic expect to be helped, but instead, they are reminded of their low political and economic status. Doctors exercise their power by spending a...

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