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Reproductive Dynamics in the Context of Domestic Violence and Economic Insecurity: Findings of a South African Case Study

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This article reveals a recent decline in fertility in Africa and specifically in South Africa. It provides a thorough analysis of the aetiology of the decline, which differs in many ways from that presented in traditional approaches to the subject and has implications also for other African countries. Thus "crisis-led" fertility declines may be a more convincing explanation of declining fertility in Africa than explanations emphasising improved socioeconomic conditions. Using the Winterveld as a case study, the author reiterates a speculative argument that the shift toward bearing fewer children might be due, in certain social contexts, to experiences of hardship, domestic instability and the deterioration, rather than improvement in the position of women. In such situations, the manipulation of reproduction becomes a strategy to contend with powerlessness, insecurity, and gender-based violence.


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