It takes two to make a baby, and yet, data shows that a lot of men still think of family planning to be women’s responsibility. According to National Family Health Survey, three in eight men in India believe that contraception is women’s duty and that men should not have to worry about it. With India set to overtake China as the most populated country in the world sometime in the next decade, can we afford to have nearly 38 percent of men refuse to participate in family planning? Must the accountability for the population of this country and the size of every family fall majorly on women’s wombs?
- Nearly 38 percent of men think that contraception is women’s department, says NFH survey.
- Another report claims that women accounted for 93 percent of sterilisation surgeries performed in 2017-18.
- Does the onus of family planning lie largely on women’s womb?
- It is time that Indian men come on-board the family planning agenda, as this is much more than just a personal issue now.
According to National Family Health Survey, three in eight men in India believe that contraception is women’s duty and that men should not have to worry about it.
According to NFHS, female sterilisation remains the most popular modern contraceptive method. Among currently married women in the 15-49 age group, 36 percent use female sterilisation, followed by male condoms (6 percent) and pills (4 percent). These figures tell us how married women in India have to bear the onus of controlling their family’s size. Since it is us who bring a child into the world, it is largely our headache to worry about how many of them we can rear. Also, women have internalised these male beliefs, and do no hold their partners accountable for family planning, often giving in to demands of intercourse without protection for the sake of a happy marriage. With low awareness and misinformation regarding harmful effects of contraceptive measures like IUDs and contraceptive pills quite prevalent, married women, and in many cases their partners, opt for them to get sterilised as a measure of family planning.
Gender bias in family planning via surgical methods isn’t a myth. It is a horrific reality of many married Indian women, who have no reproductive agency. According to a report published by the National Health Mission, 93.1% of the sterilizations performed in India between 2017-18 were on women. This despite the fact that male vasectomies are known to be less invasive procedures than tubal ligation, that women have to undergo.
With India set to overtake China as the most populated country in the world sometime in the next decade, can we afford to have nearly 38 percent of men refuse to participate in family planning?
Even when you look for other options for contraception, apart from surgical options, the methods available for women, like pills or diaphragm or IUDs, are of intrusive in nature. And yet male partners have no qualms in letting their wives pick up the slack. Be it the entitlement to shirk off responsibilities, or deep-rooted insecurities regarding masculinity, use of contraception doesn’t have many takers among Indian men. There seems to be little awareness and will among men, to take matters in their own hands.
Education, awareness and evoking empathy for their partners are the key factors which can lead to a drastic change in male approach towards contraception. And why just men, educating women about their agency on their bodies, will help them shed the regressive mind-sets that it is women’s duty to appease their husbands at any cost. Family planning isn’t just a remedy for unwanted pregnancies. It is our duty now, both as citizens and parents. It is our ticket to a better quality of life and to ensure that our planet remains sustainable for coming generations. And while women have been doing their part willingly or unwillingly, it is about time that men pitched in too.
Image Credit: LiveMint
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.