1st Edition

Childlessness in Bangladesh Intersectionality, Suffering and Resilience

By Papreen Nahar Copyright 2022
    228 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    228 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the intersectionality and stratified lived experience of rural poor and urban middle-class childless women in Bangladesh.

    Childless women in Bangladesh, an over-populated country where fertility control is the primary focus of health policy, are all but non-existent. Papreen Nahar offers an alarming account of stigma, abuse, ostracism and violence against these women, sharing their experiences of marginalisation in a culture that idealises motherhood. In such a reality, the experience of childlessness, particularly for women, can be much more severe than what is defined as ‘infertility’ in the biomedical sense. As childlessness is a complex interaction between biology, society and culture, the book illustrates the ways in which infertility transforms a health problem into social suffering. Although Bangladeshi childless women are systematically excluded by various structural forces, it appears they do not succumb to their circumstances; rather, they develop resilience and agency to become survivors of their new, albeit bleak, lives.

    The volume will be of interest to scholars working in anthropology, reproductive and women’s health, global health, gender studies, development studies and Asian studies.

    Prelude: Two cases of childless women from Bangladesh

    Hiramon’s story

    Normoda’s story

    1 Introduction

    2 The motherhood question

    3 Consequences of childlessness

    4 Social and cultural construction of childlessness

    5 Journey to conception

    6 Services, programs and policies concerning infertility

    7 Childless women’s resistance to their situations

    8 Notes on methodology

    9 Concluding remarks






    Papreen Nahar is a Senior Research Fellow in Medical Anthropology and Global Health based in the Department of Global Health and Infection at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, UK. She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on gender issues and marginalised populations, including on infertility, in low- and middle-income contexts in the global south.