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35 year old mom gets 15th child

35-yr-old mom readies for 15th child

Jingles wooing the public to take up family planning hold no meaning for Phoolmaya of Damarang in Kakada VDC-7. Nor did any related I/NGO campaign put a full stop to her "incredible" fertility. Having given birth to 14 children already, this 35-year-old is now all set to give birth yet again. "I gave birth to my first child when I was only 15," said she. "Thereafter, that experience has recurred almost every year." Of her total of six sons and eight daughters, only five sons and four daughters have survived. Recalling her marriage, Phoolmaya said she was married to one Akkal Bahadur Chepang when she was 13. According to the prevalent custom in this downtrodden community, men persuade, often force, girls to marry them after singling them out at local fairs. Due to recurrent childbirth, she looks rather old for her age. "I have lived most of my postnatal days just on wild roots and bulbs," she recalls. According to her, she couldn't ever even get to eat a belly-full of dhido (a type of porridge made of flour and water). And there has been no change in her condition. Phoolmaya's "large" family more than adequately depicts the toll that conservative thinking, poverty and illiteracy, when combined together, take on rural folks. To make matters worse, not a single of her kids, including her eldest son who is now 17, has seen what a school looks like. According to Phoolmaya, although a team reached her village nine years ago with a view to spreading awareness about family planning, her husband refused to undergo a surgical operation, fearing disease after the operation. "Locals hold the belief that anyone who undergoes such surgery would suffer from back pain and thus won't be able to do arduous work," she reveals. According to Govindaram Chepang, chairman of the Chepang Organization, locals hold just the opposite belief regarding family planning. "Not only Phoolmaya, there are many other women in the community who are suffering a fate like hers."

 

Source: Kathmandu Post - 30-1-2007

 

keyterms: woman, child, family planning, Nepal

 

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