Cultural Concepts and Behavioral Influences on Women of South-East Asia


Scientific Study, 2014
56 Pages

Excerpt

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT

CONCLUSIONS

1. INTRODUCTION

2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE:
2.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
2.2 WOMEN IN THE INDO-PAK SUBCONTINENT:
2.3 WOMEN IN ISLAM:
2.4. WOMEN IN PAKISTAN:
2.5 FERTILITY / CHILDBEARING PATTERN AND HEALTH OF WOMEN:
2.5.1 MATERNAL MORTALITLY:
2.5.2 NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES:
2.5.3 REPRODUCTIVE TRACT INFECTIONS AND CANCERS:
2.6 FACTORS AFFECTING THE FERTILITY:
2.6.1 AGE AT MARRIAGE
2.6.2 RACE AND ETHNICITY:
2.6.3 SOCIAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS AND FERTILITY:
2.6.4 EDUCATION:
2.6.5 RELIGION AND FERTILITY:
2.6.6 INCOME AND FERTILITY:

3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:
3.1 AIMS
3.2 GENREAL OBJECTIVES:
3.3 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES:

4. OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS:
A. FERTILITY:
B. HEALTH:
C. STATUS:

5. HYPOTHESES:

6. MATERIAL AND METHODS:
6.1 SETTING:
6.2 DURATION OF STUDY:
6.3 SAMPLE SIZE:
6.4 SAMPLING TECHNIQUE:
6.5 SAMPLE SELECTION:
6.6 STUDY DESIGN:
6.7 DATA COLLECTION:
6.8 DATA ANALYSIS:

7 RESULTS:
7.1 GENERAL DESCRIPTION AND OBSERVATIONS:
7.2 CHILDBEARING PATTERN AND STATUS OF WOMEN:
7.3 PERCEPTION OF IDEAL FAMILY SIZE:
7.4 SON PREFERENCE:
7.5 CHILDBEARING PATTERN AND RESULTING RESPECT:
7.6 SIPPORT IN THE REGULAR WORK:
7.7 SUPPORTS DURING PREGNANCY DELIVERY AND LACATION
7.8 ACCESS TO FOOD AND HEALTH CARE:
7.8.1 DIET DURING PREGNANCY AND LACTATION:
7.9 PERCEPTONS AND USE OF HEALTH CARE DURING ILLINES:
7.10 SUPPORTS DURING ILLNESS:
7.11 PERCEPTIONS AND USE OF HEALTH CARE DURING REPRODUCTION:
7.12 PERCEPTIONS REGARDING HELATY WOMEN:
7.13 THE EFFECT OF CHILDDEARING ON HEALTH:

8. DISCUSSION:

9. CONCULSIONS:

10. REFERNCES:

ANNEX 1:

ANNEX II

ABSTRACT:

This Anthropological study was conducted to understand the link between cultural, social and biological factors with childbearing pattern, health and status of women.

The study was conducted in two areas of Lahore, a rural area and an urban slum. Data was collected through observation and repeated in-depth interviews in Urdu/ Punjabi. Forty-six women were interviewed, for triangulation purpose four focus group discussions and eight mother-in-laws were interviewed.

RESULTS:

PERCEPTIONS OF HEALTH:

Women from the village and from the lowest socioeconomic status spoke of health in terms of physical strength: whereas women from medium socioeconomic status discussed it in terms of cultural competence. The women from the urban slum and low socioeconomic status spoke of health in terms of mental strength.

HEALTH CARE OPTIONS:

Rural women had flexible, pragmatic attitude towards health care resources and used all types until treated. Their relationship to the doctor was specific: they were mostly concerned with medical treatment. In contrast urban women chose health care providers depending upon type of illness, and the ones who treated them with respect.

CHILDBEARING AND HEALTH:

All the women knew that repeated childbearing effect the health of the women. These women felt they have limited control over their lives, and this was exemplified by early marriages, high expectations from newly wed women to conceive, poor availability of reproductive health services and difficult access to contraceptives.

CHILDBEARING AND STATUS:

Mothers of sons only or the ones who had more sons than daughters did not speak of being treated poorly at all. They were respected by their families. They had access to health care and household resources. They were more vocal regarding discussing their problems.

Women with only daughters and who had more daughters compared to sons spoke of not being treated so well by their in-laws as well as their husband. They had access to food and household resources, but poor access to health care. They were less vocal when discussing their problems.

Women without children spoke of their husbands and in-laws being abusive. They had to work hard which was not recognized and had little access to food, household resources and health care.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of this study confirmed the hypothesis that women with children have better status, support, access to food and resources and health care than women without children. Furthermore, among the mothers with children having more sons had better status, support, and access to food and resources and health care than mothers of more daughters. These patterns were surprisingly consistent for both rural and urban area.

KEY WORDS: childbearing, health, health care, status in family, family size, son preference and Pakistan.

1. INTRODUCTION:

Anthropology is the study of humankind in terms of scientific inquiry and logical presentation. It strives for a comprehensive and coherent view of our own species within dynamic nature, organic evolution, and socio-cultural development.

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, with a current population of Pakistan is 193,411,136 in 2016, based on the latest United Nations estimates. The growth rate is 1.6% and fertility rate is 3.26 per woman, leading to rapid increase in population.[1],[2]

High fertility and poor maternal and infant health are common characteristics of many developing countries.[3] South Asia contributes a big share to World’s population and accounts for 50 % of the world’s maternal deaths. Pakistan together with India and Bangladesh accounts for 28 % of the world’s births and 46% of its maternal deaths.[4], [5]

High maternal mortality reflects high fertility and poor nutritional status of women[6]. Maternal mortality is only the tip of “the ice-berg”, for each maternal death there are an estimated 100 maternal morbidities from causes related to childbearing.[7], [8]

During the 1990’2, the focus of research and interventions on women’s health broadened to include health problems affecting women, e.g., conditions that are relatively more common and/or severe among women and conditions where women respond differently to treatment compared to men. [9], [10] the perceptions of health, health needs and health care options may differ between men and women. The implications of this difference is only recently being studied.[11], [12], [13]

In many developing countries knowledge of health, health needs and health care options is poor amongst women. Moreover, the health needs of women go beyond the reproductive issues and there is an urgent need to improve the health of women. Only recently, studies from developing countries on women’s own framework for conceptualizing health have emerged. [14]

Attitudes to childbearing, family size and family planning have been investigated through quantitative and qualitative studies in the developing countries for decades, often with the aim of reducing high fertility in these countries. In many countries, especially in South East Asia as well as in the Middle East, desired family size has been shown to be closely associated with desire of sons, [15], [16],[17] Most families first want several sons and thereafter at least one daughter. This son preference exists in some societies characterized by marked gender inequalities and low female status. [18] Thus, in many parts of the world: underlying birth spacing attitudes are based on gender ideology and male superiority. Consequently, in this situation avenue for the women to increase their status is by bearing of many sons. [19]

Gender issues have started gaining increased attention at regional as well as global forum. There is no society in the world where women enjoy the same opportunities, same rights and choices as men. [20] South Asia is classified as the least gender sensitive region of the world. In Pakistan, gender roles are clearly defined and gender based differences in resource allocation have been described by many. [21], [22] The girl child is consistently exploited, unrecognized and neglected. She gets less food, less education and health care compared to boys. [23]

In Pakistan ignorance, poverty and inadequate health care system are responsible for the poor health of the general population. Women face unique additional risks because of childbearing, low socioeconomic status, cultural factors for example, the practices of seclusion and limited authority in decision making further impedes her access to social services such as health care, education, family planning and income generation activities. [24] Quantitative studies have shown that number of living sons, age and duration of marriage, urban residence and access to family planning services all influence family size. [25], [26] However, little is known about the perception of Pakistani women of their own health, health needs, health care options, childbearing, ideal family size and son preference.

The present study was initiated to explore the relationship between childbearing pattern, maternal health and status among low and middle income women in Punjab, Pakistan. This research took place in a ‘Prudah’ observing society, where a dichotomization of the sexes exists in its most elaborated form. Another issue of importance is the heterogeneity that exists within each gender. In this study the status of women is evaluated in a group of low income women and studied as perceived values and self worth of the women within their families as well as amongst the families within their area of residence.

As a first step, the direct biological link between childbearing pattern and maternal health was investigated. [27] The results of our previous studies indicate that marginally nourished Punjabi women lost weight and malnourished women actually gained weight during a reproductive cycle. [28] Following this biological framework, a social framework was developed considering that repeated childbearing may influence maternal health because or her improved status in the family, and therefore improved access to food and health care.

A qualitative research project was initiated with the aim to understand the relationship between fertility and health so that effective intervention to improve women’s health could be designed in future. The specific aim of the study was to evaluate the perceptions and experiences of images of health and health care options and childbearing among Punjabi women, with special emphasis on son preference and changes in women’s status in the marital family.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OF CHILDBEARING PATTERN,

HEALTH AND STATUS OF WOMEN IN THE FAMILY. Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

A conceptual model to explain the relationship between childbearing pattern, health and status of women. Positive Sign (+) indicate the positive relationship between the two variables and the negative sign (-) indicate the negative relationship between the two variables.

2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE:

2.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:

The image of Asian women has always been a mystery due to lack of information on the part of most of the writers and scholars who generally equate them with the Arab or oriental women, either of which is not true. The main reason for this mystery and uncertainly is historical, which include the physical, ideological and economic invasion of the region, which affected each country differently, making Asian women a heterogeneous group evincing similarities as far as the role and status of women are concerned. [29]

The whole of Asia forms part of the ancient world, in which several civilizations have flourished and perished. Along with different civilizations, different religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity had impact on the way of life as well as on the status of women. [30]

During the early 1970, a number of meetings were organized by UNESCO in different parts of the world for women of different countries to exchange views about the plight of women, and problems associated with their status. [31] In 1980 the delegates meeting in Manila representing South East Asia pointed out that it was not the law which was discriminatory towards women in these countries but the traditions.

The ratio of women to men in the population universally results from differences in the gender specific death rates. For biological reasons, boys slightly outnumber girls at birth, but have higher mortality, as they age women tend to equal or outnumber men in the population. However, in Asia a deficit in number of women relative to men stems from various life long discriminations against girls and women for example, nutrition and health care in early as well as during childbearing years. 20

2.2 WOMEN IN THE INDO-PAK SUBCONTINENT:

The women in the Indo-Pak subcontinent enjoyed a high status until 300 BC. During this period, women enjoyed a respectable place in the family and community. Birth of a female child was welcomed; she was given the same education as sons. The average age of marriage was 16-18 years, and girls were allowed to select their partners. Women did not observe “purdah” and enjoyed considerable freedom of movement and action. [32]

After 300 BC the status of women declined steadily due to social, cultural and political factors in the era. [33] Manu a Hindu law giver preached against the education of women and their active role in public affairs. It led to restrictions on women. As a result access to health and household resources was denied. Age of marriage reduced to 8-10 years and women became a commodity instead of an individual. [34] this discrimination by law as well as socio-cultural traditions and practices led to gender based inequalities in the intra-household resources allocation, as well as violence. [35] this discrimination against women starts in early life. The girl as child and adult has a higher risk of malnutrition, morbidity and mortality because of less opportunities of access to education, food, health services and employment compared to men. [36]

2.3 WOMEN IN ISLAM:

“Aurton kay mardon pay aisay he haqooq hain jaisay mardon kay auraton par. Achay salook kay sath” [37]

(And they women have rights similar to those of men in kindness)

“Aur Achay salook kay sath aurtaoon kay saath zindgi basar karo” [38]

(And treat them (women) nicely and live with them in peace)

Before the advent of Islam in the 7th century AD, the status of women was low in the Arab world. Girls were buried alive after birth, those who survived were denied all rights and resources. Islam gave the right of survival to women. The status of women as a daughter, as a mother and as a wife according to the Quranic teachings is much higher than one granted by any other religion including Buddhism and Hinduism. Her status in the community is determined by her deeds. [39] The Holy Quran teaches the Muslims to improve the situation of the weak groups like orphans, slaves, women and the poor. [40], [41] Islam allows women to get education, to excel in scholarship, practice medicine and participate in warfare. They have the rights to decide about the choice of their life partners, marriage and divorce. They also have the legal rights to property.

Inspite, of the above mentioned facts in actual practice it has been observe that many of the cultural and tradional norms concerning women of the pre-Islamic era are still prevailing in Muslim world. As a result women are denied their share of education, health, and access to resources and employment by the families and they society. 39, 40

In the pre partition Indo-Pak subcontinent most Muslims were converts from Hinduism and other religions and were a minority. After partition the low status of women in Pakistan is a legacy of Indian culture. Inspite of the teachings of Islam discrimination against women is common in most of the Islamic and developing countries. [42], 23

2.4. WOMEN IN PAKISTAN:

Pakistan has an estimated population of 144.5 millions. Females constitute 47.5% of the population, and of these 30 million approximately are in their reproductive ages. Each year, approximately more than 5.3 million women go through the ordeals of pregnancy and childbirth. [43] About 25,000 of whom die and another half million suffer from serious consequences of obstetric complications.

The health and social development indicator of Pakistan are still poor particularly health of women is a sad story. The reasons are low social and economic status of women, poor nutrition during pregnancy and lactation, high fertility rate and poor access to health services. 43 due to the high maternal mortality amongst women in Pakistan the males outnumber females, for example for every 108 males there are 100 females. [44], 24

Fertility rate is 5.2 per women in Pakistan being among the highest in the world. This to a large extent is due to the indirect result of the high infant and child mortality. 44, 3. Another important reason for the continued high fertility is the social and cultural value system, which determines the position of women in society. For example, the status of women is based primarily on their reproductive role and the desire for children, particularly for sons. [45] The desire to have more children among married women is higher among those with few living sons than those with several. This son preference is also because girls are considered an economic burden, compared to sons who are considered to be an economic asset, as they provide a safeguard against disability or death of the head of family, or against loss of land or other assets. [46], [47]

In Indo-Pak subcontinent ‘Purdah’ (curtain); regulates interaction between man and woman, it refers to the seclusion and modest behavior of women. This is a complex concept and many different approaches have been used to analyze it. It has been studied in terms of social function as well as symbolic value, and can be conceptualized as a special institution within the Hindu and Muslim cultures. [48], 40

In a broad sense,’ purdah’ is a system of gender role allocation interrelated with the status of men and women, arrangements of marriage, division of labor, and maintenance of moral standards. In a ‘Purdah’ observing society there is an overall asymmetry that exists between domains of women and men. Ultimately this asymmetry affects women’s prestige, status, respect and access to resources in the society. [49], [50]

The cultures of South Asian societies are largely gender stratified, characterized by patrilineal descent, patrilocal residence, inheritance and succession practices which exclude women, and hierarchical relation in which the patriarch or his relatives have authority over family members. [51], 33 Strong arguments have been advanced in the literature to support the hypothesis that women in Pakistan occupy a separate and distinctive position that effectively denies them autonomy and education: as compared to other women in the region. This lack of control over their own lives has been cited as the central factor underlying the poor health and mortality outcome of women. [52]. [53]

Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan with 55 % of the population. It is primarily agricultural. Punjab is typically patriarchal and patrilocal, and the region is well known for in-egalitarian gender relations. Women have little autonomy or freedom of movement and limited inheritance rights in practice, and limited opportunities and control over economic resources. After marriage, a young woman is expected to remain largely invisible and under the authority of her husband’s family. She has little say in domestic decision and freedom of movement is limited. The only available avenue to enhance her prestige and even security in her husband’s home is through her fertility, and particularly the number of sons she bears. 49

2.5 FERTILITY / CHILDBEARING PATTERN AND HEALTH OF WOMEN:

Fertility or childbearing is defined as the number of live births that occur to a woman. [54] Fertility / childbearing and maternal health are closely related to each other. High maternal morbidity and mortality is a reflection of poor maternal health and is a common problem of many developing countries. 24, 6

Fertility rates range from an average or 1.2 children per woman in developed countries to 7.4 children in the developing countries. [55] In every society a variety of cultural, economic and health factors interfere with the process of human reproduction. For example, large or small families, son preference, social roles of women, child bearer or childrearer, and dependence in old age on their children. 44

More than 500,000 women die every year around the world from causes related to pregnancy, childbirth and abortion. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in less developed regions, particularly in Africa and Asia. [56], 1 Maternal deaths are strongly associated with lack of medical care during pregnancy, during and immediately after childbirth. [57], [58]

Health problems of women in the childbearing age are directly related to high fertility. 52, 27 The most common health problems associated with high fertility are, high maternal mortality, nutritional deficiencies, reproductive tract infections and cancers and general morbidity like respiratory problems, body aches and pains and gastrointestinal problems.

2.5.1 MATERNAL MORTALITLY:

Maternal mortality is by far the most sensitive indicator of functioning of the nation’s health system. It also indicates how well a society takes care of the mothers. Pakistan’s maternal mortality ratio is most frequently reported as 340 per 100,000 live births, it is also estimated that 1 woman is every 38 dies from pregnancy related causes. [59], 24

2.5.2 NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES:

Malnutrition is a major health problem among the poor people in Pakistan. It affects adult women more than men, and contributes to poor growth from generation to generation. Fifty percent of the women in the childbearing age are anemic. Factors contributing to high rate of anemia are early childbearing, short intervals between pregnancy, high parity, poor nutrition and skewed intra household food distributon.[60]

2.5.3 REPRODUCTIVE TRACT INFECTIONS AND CANCERS:

The extent of reproductive tract infections in Pakistan has not been documented. In India most women suffer from reproductive tract infections and other gynecological disorders, and similar contributing factors exist in Pakistan.24These include inadequate menstrual hygiene, unhygienic delivery, poor water quality and sanitation and general lack of health and sex education. [61] Reproductive tract infections also increase susceptibility of women to HIV infections.

Cancers of the breast and reproductive tract constitute a significant proportion of the cancers seen in women in Pakistan. [62]

2.6 FACTORS AFFECTING THE FERTILITY:

Reproductive behavior in the human population is the result of a complex web of socio-economic, biological and behavioral factors, intricately related to each other. [63] A number of factors influence fertility, the most predictable and obvious fertility differential is age, but race, religion, social, economic and cultural factors also influence childbearing. 52

2.6.1 AGE AT MARRIAGE

Birth rates by the age of mother follow the same general pattern is most societies. Rates are low in the teens, peak in the 20s and decline thereafter. In Pakistan, where contraception is not widely practiced, the length of the reproductive period is major determinant of fertility. [64] Marriage marks the onset of exposure to the risk of childbearing and therefore an important implication for fertility. 63 The onset of childbearing is an important indicator of fertility. If the age at marriage is early, a woman will have a longer exposure period and is expected to end up with higher fertility, where as late marriages have been found to have a fertility reducing affects. [65] A decline in fertility due to increase in age at marriage has been documented in Pakistan. In Pakistan the legal age for marriage is 16 years for females but many girls are married before 16 years of age. [66], [67], 18 This is because of the religions and cultural beliefs of parents who often feel relieved of an obligation after the marriage of their daughters.

2.6.2 RACE AND ETHNICITY:

In many countries, racial and ethnic minorities have higher fertility than the majority. These differences often come from religious beliefs and cultural traditions. 54 Immigrants often maintain the childbearing pattern of their homelands.

2.6.3 SOCIAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS AND FERTILITY:

The role of women in the family and community is both a reflection of the national development and determinant of its long term prospects. The impact of female population on national and social statistics is high, not only because of the sheer force of their numbers, but also because of their multi dimensional functions, including the responsibilities for child development. [68]

In any given society individuals do not behave in isolation, they participate in activities in groups. The most important group of human beings is the family. It is the family where one generation is replaced by another. The Pakistani society is considered to be traditional patriarchal in nature with respect to its family structure and fertility behavior. A review of Pakistan’s population increase and high fertility indicates that its family size norm has remained very high. [69]

In many traditional societies, son preference over daughters is quite prominent along with the desire for at least one child of each sex. Sons are thought to be the future assets for economic productivity, providers of security in emergencies and as conduits to carry on the family name. This son preference seems to affect the behavior of couples relating to reproduction as well as fertility. This son preference results in significant gap between the desired and actual family size. [70], [71], [72]

2.6.4 EDUCATION:

Female education is an indicator of societal commitment to social development which in turn is an important determinant of fertility. Considerable literature exists reflecting international experiences of higher female educational attainment and low fertility levels. [73] The analysis of data from Pakistan shows that women with no education have higher number of children as compared to those with some formal education. The mean number of children born per woman with no education is 4.5, with primary education 3.5, with secondary education 2.9 and with tertiary education 2.5. [74], [75] A recent study conclude that even opportunities for primary schooling for girls play a role in influencing fertility. [76] The relationship between education and fertility is elaborated through various pathways that include change in attitudes, perceptions, knowledge and changes in decision-making and changes in behavior.

Education is also intricately associated with many social, economic and psychological processes, that true relationship with fertility remains obscure. Education certainly affects the age at marriage, attitudes to ideal and desire family size, cost and benefits of children, interaction between spouse and the access to health services. 76

2.6.5 RELIGION AND FERTILITY:

Pakistan is an Islamic country. It is often believed that fertility in Islamic countries is higher than elsewhere, and that fertility of Muslim population is higher than non-Muslim populations. However, recent reports indicate that in a number of Muslim countries fertility has declined sharply. [77] Pakistan appears to be a major ‘outlier’ when fertility decline, taking place in much of Asia and also the Muslim world are considered. [78]

2.6.6 INCOME AND FERTILITY:

In low-income societies the families live in risky environments. High child mortality means less number of surviving children. The poor often have little control over their lives compared to rich. They have little working capital to invest in education and health for their children, and have limited information of the available income generating activities. They have little access to contraceptive. As a consequence they have poorer health, high fertility, and large families. [79]

Recently there has been an increasing awareness of the possible role of women’s status in relation to health and fertility. [80] There is also a need that intervention must be based on the knowledge about possible interactions among at three characteristics, i.e., health, status and fertility. It is well known that maternal health will improve if women have access to education, adequate health care and nutrition and resources for the reduction of fertility. [81]

The study was conducted among low income women where effect of fertility on women’s health was most likely to be found and interventions most likely to be needed. The study will draw inferences for women for similar class in the society.

The previous studies of fertility and status compared married women with children versus married women without children, and high parity versus low parity women. To add to our understanding of many layers of bias that exist for women in Pakistan we had proposed to include mothers with many sons versus mother with many daughters, as they number of live born alone does not capture the cultural relevance of reproduction.

[...]


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Details

Title
Cultural Concepts and Behavioral Influences on Women of South-East Asia
Authors
Year
2014
Pages
56
Catalog Number
V339548
ISBN (eBook)
9783668295056
ISBN (Book)
9783668295063
File size
695 KB
Language
English
Tags
childbearing, health, health care, status in family, family size, son preference and Pakistan.
Quote paper
Anjum Hashmi (Author)Fayaz Mamluh Alazmi (Author)Jamil Ahmed Somroo (Author), 2014, Cultural Concepts and Behavioral Influences on Women of South-East Asia, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/339548

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