18 Jun 2011

"They care more about trees than people"

Interesting article from Naomi about the population debate from last year, Amartya Sen's work on population and the 100 million missing womenis also essential.

Charles Coven wrote recently in the Sunday Times of the green dividend to the child benefit cut. Put simply, less benefits will result in fewer children and therefore less consumption and while this is not the aim of the cuts it is unintentionally "greening" the benefits system. While there has been much written about the disproportionate impact on women of benefits cuts, particularly child benefit, the 'population control' debate is remarkably devoid of women. You know, the ones that are having the babies.

The green movement is often, wrongfully, accused of misanthropy. "They care more about trees than people", screech the professional oppositionists. But the obsession with population control by a minority of greens opens them up to very legitimate accusations of authoritarianism, 'classism' (i.e. it's the poor we want to stop having babies) and gender-blindness. It is a paradigm dominated by elite men which spectacularly misses the point and ignores the evidence that actually protecting sexual and reproductive rights and empowering women to control their own fertility results in lower birth rates and importantly, lower death rates.

No one who works in maternal and reproductive health talks of 'population control'. For historical and contemporary reasons it is associated with eugenics, China's one-child policy, forced sterilisation and forced abortion. These morally abhorrent examples might be dismissed as extremes but they are simply the results of a way of thinking about reproduction which is coercive and rejects individual rights as fundamental to public policy.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great post. The mere mention of the word 'eugenics' sends shivers down the spine. So it should! Anyone as introverted as me is occasionally tempted to find beech trees better company than people, but if our party is about anything it should be the politics of humanity. I'm a Mennonite. We know what it feels like to be on the wrong end of state sponsored coercion. It is a very dark place.

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