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Understanding and Exposing Population Control: The Colonization of Women’s Bodies

September 24, 2009 - By Dido Hasper and Eileen Schnitger - 0 Comments

Strategies to induce or coerce certain social groups to have or not have children are as old as the notion of private property. Power relationships that rely on racial purity, eliminating the poor or quelling revolution seek ways of controlling or influencing who is born.

For the patriarch to pass on private property, the paternity of children must be known. To move away from a cooperative socioeconomic system into patriarchy, men with means had to know who their kids were. Population control policies evolved in the 1960’s as central to capitalism. Some tactics that feminists organized against were:

  • Pill-only birth control projects in a variety of countries

  • Forced and coerced sterilization (By the late 70’s sixty-five percent of Puerto Rican women had “chosen” to be sterilized. In the United States, Native American women are targeted for sterilization.

  • Bribes as an incentive to get sterilized

  • Promotion of the “mini-lap” sterilization procedure for women performed with a local anesthetic and powered by a Jeep engine

  • Payment for using experimental, untested birth control, such as Norplant

  • Disinformation spread against the safety and efficacy of barrier birth control methods

  • The World Bank requiring a population policy to go along with its loans to Third World countries

Population policies, by definition, mean that one group of people decide, proscribe, recommend or coerce another group to influence pregnancy and birth outcomes. As long as change is brought about by population policies and not by the people themselves, the process will prevent self-determination and create the conditions for exploitation. Until women can have control over when and how they have sex, they must have the ability to decide when and how many children they will have.

In the 1970’s women discovered and began sharing self-help, self-examination and women-controlled health care to counter the coercive and abusive population policies. Now we seek to have a multicultural, multigenerational conversation among feminists, activists and other wise women to develop a current feminist position on controlling reproduction.

Who is visibly addressing population policies as they have evolved? From paying people to get sterilized, to the trendy cry for ‘improving the status of women’- all to the same end- these policies influence who will be born to fill capitalist needs. We need to join with grassroots women, women of color and indigenous women to expose the new anti-women population control strategies being used against us worldwide.

By Dido Hasper, WHS Founding Director

and Eileen Schnitger, WHS Director of Development




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