Advertisement

Apartheid and Health Professional Accountability: Violations of the Reproductive Rights of Women

  • Jeanelle de Gruchy
  • Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven
Part of the Comparative Feminist Studies book series (CFS)

Abstract

Examining the work of scientists and health professionals during colonial and apartheid South Africa reveals complex interconnections between science, gender, “race,”1 and nation-building. We explore the complicity of health professionals in the abuse of the reproductive rights of South African women through participation in a system that constructed women primarily as reproductive bodies and manipulated their reproduction for oppressive political purposes. If a culture of respect for human rights is to supplant one of complicity with abuse, this history must first be acknowledged, accountability accepted, and systematic mechanisms put in place to address training, monitoring for human rights abuses and transformation in institutions and organizations. While challenging and perhaps time-consuming to tackle issues of the past, it is imperative to undertake such critical self-study so that current attempts to transform health services in post-apartheid South Africa will be successful.

Keywords

Family Planning Black Woman Black Population Family Planning Program Population Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Works Cited

  1. Baldwin-Ragaven, L., J. de Gruchy, S. Lewin, and L. London. 1998. “Restoring the Honour of Our Profession.” South African Medical journal 88: 969–970.Google Scholar
  2. Baldwin-Ragaven, L., J. de Gruchy, and L. London. 1999. An Ambulance of the Wrong Colour: Health Professionals, Human Rights and Ethics in South Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: University of Cape Town Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barry, K. 2002. “DIY Abortions: State Abortion Clinics.” Carte Blanche [Video]. South Africa: MNET (June 23).Google Scholar
  4. Brown, B.B. 1987. “Facing the ‘Black Peril’: The Politics of Population Control in South Africa.” Journal of Southern African Studies 13: 256–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carnegie Commission. 1932. The Poor White Problem in South Africa: Report of the Carnegie Commission. Stellenbosch, South Africa: Pro ecclesia-drukkery.Google Scholar
  6. Correa, S. 1994. Population and Reproductive Rights: Feminist Perspectives from the South. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  7. De Gruchy, J., L. London, L. Baldwin-Ragaven, S. Lewin, and the Health and Human Rights Project Support Group. 1998. “The Difficult Road to Truth and Reconciliation–The Health Sector Takes Its First Steps.” South African Medical Journal 88: 975–979.Google Scholar
  8. Department of Health and Welfare. N.D. How the Farmer’s Wife Can Promote Family Planning [Pamphlet in Afrikaans, translated by author de Gruchy]. South Africa: Department of Health and Welfare.Google Scholar
  9. Dubow, S. 1995. Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Ellison, G., T. De Wet, C. Ijsselmuiden, and L. Richter. 1996. “Desegregating Health Statistics and Health Research in South Africa.” South African Medical Journal 86: 1257–1262.Google Scholar
  11. Finnegan, W. 2001. “The Poison Keeper.” The New Yorker (January): 58–75.Google Scholar
  12. Garcia-Moreno, C. 2002. “Dilemmas and Opportunities for an Appropriate Health-Service Response to Violence against Women.” Lancet 359: 1509–1514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Health and Human Rights Project (HHRP). 1997. The Final Submission of the HHRP to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Cape Town: Health and Human Rights Project.Google Scholar
  14. Human Rights Watch. 1997. South Africa: Violence against Women and the Medico-Legal System 9 (4A): 1–53.Google Scholar
  15. Jewkes, R., Z. Mvo, and N. Abrahams. 1997. “Violence Against Patients in a Cape Town Obstetric Unit.” Urbanization and Health Newsletter (MRC) 34: 25–30.Google Scholar
  16. Kaiser Network. 2002. “European Union to Donate Funds to International Family Planning Programs to ‘Fill the Gap’ Left by Withdrawal of US Funding.” Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, July 25 [accessed September 2, 2002], http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/
  17. Kim, J. and M. Motsei. 2002. “ ‘Women Enjoy Punishment’: Attitudes and Experiences of Gender-based Violence among PHC Nurses in Rural South Africa.” Social Science and Medicine 54: 1243–1254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Klausen, S. 1998. The Race Welfare Society: Eugenics and Birth Control in Johannesburg, 1930 to 1944. Sussex, UK: University of Sussex Centre for Southern African Studies.Google Scholar
  19. Klugman, B. 1990. “The Politics of Contraception in South Africa.” Women’s Studies International Forum 13: 261–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klugman, B. 1993. “Balancing Means and Ends–Population Policy in South Africa.” Reproductive Health Matters 1: 44–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Klugman, B. 1998. “Dear Friends” [Editorial], Women’s Health News and Views: Newsletter of the Women’s Health Project 27: 3.Google Scholar
  22. Mann, J., L. Gostin, S. Gruskin, T. Brennan, Z. Lazzarini, and H. Fineberg. 1994. “Health and Human Rights.” Health and Human Rights 1: 6–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Office of the President. 2004. Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, 1995, [accessed June 5, 2004], http://www.info.gov.za/gazette/acts/1995/a34-95.htm
  24. Penn-Kekana, L. 2000. “RHRU: Termination of Pregnancy Services Survey.” In Report on the Public Hearings on the Implementation of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (1996), June 6–8, 2000. South Africa: The Reproductive Rights Alliance and the National Portfolio Committee on Health.Google Scholar
  25. Rapid, E.V. 1998. Letter to the editor, Asijiki 4 (March): 4.Google Scholar
  26. Rees, H. 1991. “Women and Reproductive Rights.” In Putting Women on the Agenda, ed. S. Bazilli, 209–216. Johannesburg: Raven Press.Google Scholar
  27. Rees, H. 1995. “Contraception: More Complex than Just a Method?” Agenda 27: 27–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sai, F., H. Rees, and S. McGarry. 1993. Reproductive Health and Family Planning Consultancy: National Review and Recommendations, Final Report. Johannesburg: Commission of the European Communities, Special Program for South Africa.Google Scholar
  29. Smith, Andrew B. 1997. “Modern Eugenics” [Letter]. Time International Magazine (November 3): 6.Google Scholar
  30. South African Press Association. 2002. “Tutu Slams Basson Verdict.” Mail and Guardian Online (April 12) [accessed October 14, 2002], http://www.mg.co.za/ll.jsp
  31. Stepan, N. 1991. The Hour of Eugenics. New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  32. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. 1996. Cape Town: Government Printers.Google Scholar
  33. Thornycroft, P. and S. Sole. 1998. “SADF Used Chimps in Project to Curb Black Fertility.” The Sunday Independent (April 19): 1–2.Google Scholar
  34. Tomasevski, K. 1994. Human Rights in Population Policies: A Study for SIDA. Lund, Sweden: Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA).Google Scholar
  35. Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 1998. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, volumes 1–5. Cape Town: Truth and Reconciliation Commission.Google Scholar
  36. Wa Afrika, M. 1998. “Schoolgirl Dies after Illegal Abortion.” The Sunday Times Online (September 6) [accessed October 14, 2002], http://www.suntimes.co.za/1998/09/06/news/gauteng/njhb21.htm
  37. Yuval-Davis, N. 1997. Gender and Nation. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  38. Zwi, A. 1987. “The Political Abuse of Medicine and the Challenge of Opposing It.” Social Science and Medicine 25: 649–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Obioma Nnaemeka and Joy Ngozi Ezeilo 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanelle de Gruchy
  • Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations