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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Women's Resistance to Eugenic Birth Control in Johannesburg, 1930-39
Author:Klausen, Susanne
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:urban poverty
family planning
white women
Health and Nutrition
Women's Issues
History and Exploration
Development and Technology
Ethnic and Race Relations
Health, Nutrition, and Medicine
Family Planning and Contraception
Education and Training
Fertility and Infertility
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02582470409464800
Abstract:Beginning in 1930, as South Africa was being ravaged by the Great Depression (1929-1932), birth-control organizations emerged in urban centres across the country. One of these, the Race Welfare Society (RWS), which was opened in Johannesburg in 1932, was a male-dominated eugenic organization intent on curbing the 'poor white problem' in South Africa by distributing free contraceptives to poor white women. During the 1930s, thousands of poor and working-class white women utilized the RWS's clinics. Still, the overwhelming majority of such women stayed away. This paper argues that the RWS's overriding eugenic goals ensured that medicalized birth control was designed first and foremost to serve its own interests above those of poor women. Thus, for many women, the benefits did not outweigh the drawbacks of practising modern contraception. This had a major impact on the RWS, eventually forcing it to alter its approach to clinical services as well as to reorganize its structure in the late 1930s. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]