Rachel R. Chapman, Ph.D.
"Segredos da Casa: Managing The Social Risks of Reproduction in Central Mozambique"
In the developing world, high maternal and infant morbidity and mortality
reflect enduring health inequities and inaccessibility of adequate services.
Yet, traditional beliefs are frequently blamed for blocking appropriate
"modern" health-seeking. Rather than causing non-compliance, local
reproductive health beliefs and practices are contemporary, dynamic social
constructs through which women navigate social isolation and inequality
caused by intensifying economic inequity. Data are interpreted in light of
Shona illness theories centering on witchcraft and sorcery, the power of
words, and horizontal and vertical female envy and competition. As women
confront every day, gendered experiences of sexual and economic competition,
the corporeal experience of social risks outweighs biomedical risks. These
social aspects of poverty are not often recognized as threats to women's
health that shape risk perceptions and inform health action.