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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sex-Selective Abortion in India: Social Structures, Women’s Agency, and Media Discourse
by Kipgen, Josephine, Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2020, 279; 28029505
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation seeks to understand the full context within which sex-selective abortion (SSA) occurs in India. It examines the historical forces, political movements, government policies, and gender regimes that have shaped SSA. I use qualitative research methods within a feminist methodology, including in-depth interviews with service providers, scholars, and professionals and a content analysis of three national newspapers. My study interrogates three critical areas of analysis: First, I examine the social and institutional determinants that create the preconditions and conditions for SSA. Second, I explore the potential for women’s agency since SSA is generally understood as antithetical to gender justice and perceived as stemming from the devaluation of women and girls. Third, I use the unobtrusive method of content analysis to examine gendered portrayals of SSA and women in the Indian media. In centering the narratives of service providers and professionals with systems-wide knowledge of SSA, my work offers a context-specific and informed insider perspective. Further, by grounding my research in the interests and experience of research participants, I facilitate feminist research that encourages the mutual involvement of both the researcher and research participants in shaping the research. Based on my research findings, I make the following assertions in this dissertation. First, in India, there is a conflation between legal abortion and illegal sex-determination with the intent of sex-selection. The conflation of the two often restricts women’s reproductive rights, including the right to legal abortions. Second, the family is an authoritative site that establishes norms and rules about gender, sexuality, resource distribution, and, ultimately, SSA. Third, women exercise varying degrees of agency in their reproductive choices, and not all SSA decisions result from coercion. Lastly, the government perpetuates colonial paradigms by pronouncing paternalistic guardianship and protective framings on women’s bodies, sexuality, and reproductive capacities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Britton, Hannah
Commitee: Doan, Alesha, Donovan, Brian, Deer, Sarah, Wilson, Aimee
School: University of Kansas
Department: Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: DAI-A 82/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Sociology, Journalism, Public policy, Gender studies, Public administration, Political science, Health care management, South Asian Studies
Keywords: Abortion, Content analysis, Feminist methodology, Qualitative research, Reproductive rights, Sex-selective abortion, Gender justice, National newspaper influence, Indian media, Sex discrimination, Paternalistic gardianship, Women's bodies
Publication Number: 28029505
ISBN: 9798684675997
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