Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Afghan Mullahs Get a Lesson on Birth Control

NY Times: Broaching Birth Control With Afghan Mullahs, by Sabrina Tavernise:

Afghan Flag MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — The mullahs stared silently at the screen. They shifted in their chairs and fiddled with pencils. Koranic verses flashed above them, but the topic was something that made everybody a little uncomfortable.

“A baby should be breast-fed for at least 21 months,” said the instructor. “Milk is safe inside the breast. Dust and germs can’t get inside.”

It was a seminar on birth control, a likely subject for a nation whose fertility rate of 6 children per woman is the highest in Asia. But the audience was unusual: 10 Islamic religious leaders from this city and its suburbs, wearing turbans and sipping tea.

The message was simple. Babies are good, but not too many; wait two years before having another to give your wife’s body a chance to recover. Nothing in Islam expressly forbids birth control. But it does emphasize procreation, and mullahs, like leaders of other faiths, consider children to be blessings from God, and are usually the most determined opponents of having fewer of them.

It is an attitude that Afghanistan can no longer afford, in the view of the employees of the nonprofit group that runs the seminars, Marie Stopes International. The high birthrate places a heavy weight on a society where average per capita earnings are about $700 a year. It is also a risk to mothers. Afghanistan is second only to Sierra Leone in maternal mortality rates, which run as high as 8 percent in some areas. . . . 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/reproductive_rights/2009/11/afghan-mullahs-get-a-lesson-on-birth-control.html

Contraception, Culture, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality Education | Permalink

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