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Africa: Journal of the International African Institute. 1933 Jan; 6(1):59-89.In his recent writings on the subject of marriage and kinship, Malinowski has repeatedly emphasized what he terms the 'principle of legitimacy'. By this he means the rule, found in all human societies, that a woman has to be married before she is allowed legitimately to conceive. 'Roughly speaking, an unmarried mother is under a ban, a fatherless child is a bastard. This is by no means only a European or Christian prejudice; it is the attitude found amongst most barbarous and savage peoples as well.' Where prenuptial intercourse is regarded as illicit and immoral, marriage is obviously the essential prelude to the birth of legitimate children, i.e. children having full social status in the community. But even where prenuptial intercourse is tolerated, this tolerance does not extend to liberty of conception. The unmarried boys and girls may indulge freely in sex, but there must be no issue. An unmarried mother will be subjected to punishment and become the object of scorn, her child possibly killed or aborted, while often the putative farther is also penalized unless he marries the girls. Almost universally, a child born out of wedlock has a different status from the legitimate offspring, usually very much to his disadvantage. Facts such as these show that the group of mother and child is considered in the eyes of the community, and that the sociological position of husband and father is felt to be indispensable. (excerpt)
[Midwives in the Andean communities: a form of female shamanism?] Hebammenwesen im Andenraum: eine form des weiblichen Schamanismus?
Curare. 1997 Nov; (Spec No):303-312.Acquiring an understanding of Andean midwives and their functions under consideration of their cultural background is seen as a challenge. From the viewpoint of village inhabitants, midwives are regarded as recognized members of the community, and are honored and respected because of their healing function. For this reason they are also of interest to public health institutions, who attempt to integrate them as potential representatives of basic public health care services. However, these efforts have not remained unchallenged, and they present the basis for a cultural conflict, which has contributed to misunderstandings concerning the true dimension of their personality, role and function as a representative element and as a symbol of cultural life in the indigenous Andean community. (author's)
CLINICS IN OBSTETRICS AND GYNAECOLOGY. 1986 Mar; 13(1):1-17.Attention is directed to preindustrial and transitional societies to illustrate the great variety of techniques and conditions under which abortion is practiced. The discussion covers changes in abortion status and attitudes through time as well as past and current attitudes in the US. Abortion traditionally has been performed under 2 primary sets of circumstances: the mother (or couple) does not want the pregnancy; or, for a variety of reasons, the pregnancy is deemed unacceptable by the given society, extended family, or a specific family member, usually the husband. Most accounts of abortion deal with its voluntary practice, revealing often the lengths to which women will go to control their fertility in the absence of contraception. Yet, examples exist from both preindustrial and modern societies where the decision to have an abortion is not made by the woman alone but is influenced either wholly or in part by political or cultural factors. Women who want an abortion either have performed the procedures themselves or have sought help from community practitioners, friends, or relative. Abortion techniques are highly varied and include abortifacients, magic, mechanical methods (such as instrumentation, constriction, and insertion of foreign objects into the uterus), heat applied externally, strenuous physical activity, jolts to the body, and starvation. Although abortion is extensively and rather openly practiced in many primitive societies, few groups give it unqualified approval. Cross-culturally, the most prevalent conditions for either approving of or imposing abortion include unmarried status of the mother, adultery, ambiguous paternity, mother's poor health, lactation of the mother, consent of the father, death of the father, rape, incest, and other varieties of illegal union. In Western civilization attitdues vary and have been changing in most cases. As of mid-1982, 10% of the world's population lived in countries where abortion was prohibited under all circumstances and 18% in countries where it was permitted only to save the mother's life. Close to 2/3 of the countries in Latin America, most countries in Africa, most Muslim Countries in Asia, and the 5 European countries of Belgium, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, and Spain belong in these 2 categories. An additional 8% lived in countries that permitted abortion under broad medical grounds. The remaining 64% of the world's population were governed by statutes that either allowed abortion on broad social grounds, such as unmarried status of the mother and financial problems, or permitted it on demand (usually within the 1st trimester). Recent estimates of the number of abortions have ranged up to 55 million, corresponding to an abortion rate of 70/1000 women of reproductive age and to an abortion ratio of 300/1000 known pregnancies. The US liberalized its abortion policy and then subsequently added restrictions at federal, state or local levels. Abortion is 1 of the most divisive issues in the US. Opinions range from disapproval under all circumstances, even to save the mother's life, to approval for any reason, i.e., on demand.