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“I came by the bicycle so we can avoid the police”: factors shaping reproductive health decision-making on the Thailand-Burma border

Jillian Gedeon, Saw Nanda Hsue, Angel M Foster

Abstract

For over half a century, political conflict combined with an overall lack of economic develop-ment has resulted in the displacement of millions of people both within Eastern Burma and to neighbour-ing Thailand. Given the overarching context, in conflict-affected regions of Burma, women face tremend-ous challenges in trying to obtain high quality, comprehensive reproductive health services. Drawing from interviews we conducted in Tak province, Thailand with 31 migrant and refugee women from Burma, this article explores women’s lived experiences along the border and focuses on the ways that complex, overlapping barriers impact women’s reproductive health decision-making at different points in their reproductive lives. Our results show that reproductive experiences are highly dependent on the woman’s place of living mixed with her legal status and financial resources. Combined with socio-cultural taboos and externalized and internalized stigma, these dynamics blend to place constraints on women’s autonomy and self-actualization. The way in which women’s experiences are shaped by these barriers offers insights into priorities for education and programming to help improve reproductive health services in this protracted conflict setting.

Keywords

abortion; ethnic minorities; family planning; migrants; Myanmar; refugees

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18063/IJPS.2016.01.002
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