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Kuumba, Monica Bahati. “Perpetuating Neo-Colonialism through Population Control: South Africa and the United States.” Africa Today 40, no. 3 (September 1993): 79–85.


This article draws similarities between population control efforts in the South Africa and the U.S., arguing that policies have nothing to do with promoting the health of women and in fact poorly mask attempts to reduce black African populations. The author draws on public documents and colonial histories to discuss exploitative campaigns to increase long-acting birth control and sterilization among black African women. She notes that while colonial rule rests on the exploitation of women’s and men’s production, it equally entails the exploitation of women’s reproduction. Polices incentivizing interventions, such as Norplant and Depo Provera, implanted and injected hormonal birth control that were initially tested on groups of African-American and African women in exploitative clinical trials, took away women’s autonomy around decisions to have or not have children. The author highlights lack of informed consent and lending policies linking family planning policies to loans as exploitative, aimed at reducing potential rebellion and social unrest rather than improving wellbeing. Calling critical attention to family planning programs and organizations, this author encourages the reader to look beyond the stated intent of a program, looking instead at it as one government move in a long history of colonial exploitation. This is a key reading for students, scholars, and practitioners in international family planning and reproductive health. The article tells a history of ill-designed programs that failed to keep autonomy and voluntary informed consent at the heart of their activities.


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Related Topics

Legislation/policy   Government regulation   Race/ethnicity: African American/Black   Contraception/birth control   Sterilization   History   Population control