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Accepted Paper:

Birth among Rohingya in Bangladesh: a life in exile between the domestic space and hospital  
Valentina Grillo (University of Vienna) Stephanie Marriott (Independent)

Paper short abstract:

This contribution will explore some of the tensions of Rohingya in Bangladesh at the moment of birth, between the domestic space and hospital. The authors of this paper come from different backgrounds and look at birth as well as reproductive health system in a context of refuge.

Paper long abstract:

During pregnancy, Rohingya in Bangladesh experience various tensions. Among these, one gains attention here. Rohingya have finally access to hospitals in refugee camps. For the first time women - whose access to health facilities in Myanmar has been denied over the years - have doors open to maternity centres. In this context, institutions encourage them to give birth in these facilities. Nevertheless, several women prefer to deliver in the domestic space with the daima, namely, traditional birth attendant. In exile they want to keep their traditions alive and give birth at home. What are the impacts of medicalisation of birth? While some medicalisation improves safety, inappropriate use of medical care can reduce safety. Furthermore, institutions keep track of birth rates and have recently started to discipline pregnant women who stay in their shelter to give birth.

This contribution will explore these tensions from a novel perspective. First, the ethnographic material collected in hospitals and at home will be outlined. Second, data will be commented and compared to technical knowledge. The authors of this paper come from two different backgrounds. After one year of fieldwork with Rohingyas, one author will present some of the collected material. Thanks to her field experience as UN midwife, the other will comment upon the ethnographic data. Anthropology has supported collaboration with experts in various domains and this paper will try to further explore this. What can we learn from this combined gaze towards birth and reproductive health system in a context of refuge?

Panel P50
Is all well with birth? Anthropological contributions to reproductive and maternal health systems
  Session 2 Friday 14 April, 2023, -