Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Magic Eight - Balls

Ye gods. The president of Turkmenistan is trying to overcome the decline in population growth from his predecessor's years - due, apparently to increased child mortality - by offering a stipend to the women who bear eight or more children. It doesn't say whether or not they have to bring them up to be adults, or whether, due to that high risk of child mortality, dead under fives are ok. Things that are appalling about this - just in case you needed them pointing out, which I'm sure you don't, but still:
  • Practically, this is an unbelievable risk for women to be put through in a country with high maternal mortality anyway - to ask them to do it eight times is dangerous, when you consider:
    • there are 130 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. To give you an comparison:
      • Ireland - 1;
      • UK - 8;
      • USA - 11.
    • A woman's lifetime risk of maternal mortality is 1 in 290. That's all. Again, in:
      • Ireland 1 in 47,600;
      • UK - 1 in 8,200;
      • USA - 1 in 4,400.
  • Further, you are asking these women to risk the heartbreak of dead children, given that 80 children per 100,000 die. Although, note that more women die from maternity in Turkmenistan than children.
  • Philosophically: women are again required to be subservient to the "needs" of the nation - as they were in the Soviet Union post-World War II - because that is where their true value lies, as baby factories. Never mind that perhaps development of women might lead to a stronger economy? Women earn $3,000 less per year - in Turkmenistan, that amounts to a THIRD less than men.
Free health care, bus travel are also offered if you hit the magic eight. Lucky you, ladies!

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