Durbolota (Weakness), Chinta Rog (Worry Illness), and Poverty: Explanations of White Discharge among Married Adolescent Women in an Urban Slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Abstract

I carried out ethnographic fieldwork among 153 married adolescent girls, aged 15–19, in a Dhaka slum from December 2001 to January 2003, including 50 in-depth interviews and eight case studies. I also held discussions with family and community members. In this article, I focus on popular understandings of vaginal discharge being caused by durbolota (weakness) and chinta rog (worry illness), as mentioned by young women. Eighty-eight young women reported that they had experienced white discharge, blaming it on a number of factors such as stress and financial hardships, tensions in the household, marital instability, hunger anxiety, and reproductive burdens. For married adolescent women in the urban slum, white discharge has many levels of meaning linked to the broader social, political, and material inequalities in their everyday lives.

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