Reproductive Strategies and Islamic Discourse



Approximately 37 thousand Malians currently reside in France as part of the West African diaspora. Primarily Muslim, both women and men confront challenges to their understandings of Islamic prohibitions and expectations, especially those addressing conjugal relations and reproduction. Biomedical policies generate marital conflicts and pose health dilemmas for women who face family and community pressures to reproduce but biomedical encouragement to limit childbearing. For many women, contraception represents a reprieve from repeated pregnancies and fatigue in spite of resistance from those who contest women's reproductive decisions as antithetical to Islam. French social workers play a particularly controversial role by introducing women to a discourse of women's rights that questions the authority of husbands and of religious doctrine. Women and men frame decisions and debate in diverse interpretations of Islam as they seek to manage the contradictions of everyday life and assert individual agency in the context of immigration and health politics.