As of 2019 Pakistan is now officially the 5th MOST POPULATED country in the whole damn world. This is serious people. Especially since our country neither has the resources or the capacity to host such a large population with no signs of us slowing down in the foreseeable future.
And it’s not like contraceptives and family planning have not already been invented, so why are we so hesitant to adopt these perfectly healthy and progressive ways to give mother Earth some rest?
According to this live transmission from Worldometers, we’re currently somewhere around 203,725,142 people with a new entry every six seconds.
That’s insane! Why are we not taking this more seriously? As per a research study, we are well on our way to becoming the 3rd most populated country in the world by 2050. That might seem like a problem for future Pakistanis but will have an impact on lives globally as we collectively trudge towards dwindling resources such as fossil fuels and even water.
In a country where education regarding birth control, contraceptives, family planning, and sexual health, in general, are frowned upon and considered seriously taboo topics, it is no wonder we’re constantly adding to the world’s population at an increasingly fast pace.
So, why are we so resistant and hesitant to incorporate family planning within our normal and healthy relationships? We’ve been one of the pioneers in developing family planning initiatives since the 1950s and due to these government and NGO led programs, almost 95% of adults in the country do have some information regarding the procedures. However, at the same time, only an estimated 30 percent of adults actually partake in these initiatives. According to a study, on average, Pakistani women are still giving birth to 4-5 children during their lifetimes.
So, we have the policies and we have access to family planning centers and services, then why is it not effective here? Well, socio-cultural and economic factors play a big role since child labor, no matter how disturbing, is still the main source of income for many families across the nation where poverty is rampant. That combined with a fear of being ostracized by religious leaders and/or families hinders any productive movement towards family planning initiatives.
The obsessive desire our society has to secure the family name with a male heir is quite frankly not only outdated but also another factor that makes women keep trying till they “get it right.” While it is hard to accept, this is still the reality for a majority of women and girls in Pakistan where female infanticide is simultaneously a solution to this problem
The study also found that in Pakistan, especially in rural settings, a woman has less authority in this matter even when it is her own bodily autonomy in question. Religious opinion leaders and the husband’s side of the family hold more sway over whether family planning is to be considered at all.
While their husbands find it hard to accompany their wives to such places, they are also not allowed to go their alone and unattended which makes it harder for women to be exposed to the idea that they can have a say in the matter. According to research, “a husband’s disapproval has led to a reduction in contraceptive use by 66 percent.”
The conclusion of the study summarized several factors that acted as a wedge between us ever controlling our mushroom growth in population and family planning initiatives being considered as a viable option. Age of mothers was also a key factor since the younger the woman, the more likely she was to give birth to more children along with the age gap between her and her husband resulted in less autonomy over decisions related to birth.