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OP-ED: I’m a Bangladeshi woman who decided to be child-free. We exist

  • Published at 03:26 am May 19th, 2021
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It is perfectly fine to not aspire to motherhood

I am pretty sure many of the women in Bangladesh have this experience when they visit their gynecologist’s office. If they have any reproductive health issue, the gynecologist cares little about explaining the health issue and expresses concerns about how it is going to affect your ability to get pregnant. Not all women are concerned about future pregnancy complications or their “biological clock” ticking. Some probably just want to see a doctor for their health concerns. 

I am a cisgender and straight woman in my early 30s, and I have no desire to have a child. There, I said it. I understand the stigma attached to it, but I have the freedom to say it out loud. Unfortunately, many women in this league cannot even think about it because they have been gaslighted into the idea that their life is incomplete without a child. Take the example of 90s Bollywood or Dhallywood movies which portray this “guilt” with the sky-splitting screams of all those sad-eyed actresses after their doctors reveal they cannot become a mother. I am way past all this shaming, and I am a firm believer in women’s bodily autonomy. It is my body, and I have chosen not to carry a baby in it. 

It is not like I woke up one morning and decided not to have any children at any point in my life. It was a conscious decision I made in my early 20s. It did not stem from any apathy towards life. It stemmed from my zeal to live my life to the fullest. 

I do not want my hands tied. It is as simple as that. I celebrate my femininity, but motherhood is not the sole purpose of my life just because I am a woman. I have too many plans for my life. I have books to read, stories to tell, and glass ceilings to break, and I do not see myself mothering a child in any phase of my life. 

A child-free life is often labelled as a selfish one; however, my brain could not process in all these years how a child that does not exist could possibly make us selfish. It could be the other way round. I think when you are reluctant to have a child but still decide to have a child because of social obligation and think everything else will fall into place, that is selfish. People do not become parents by default just by having a biological child. 

Call me crazy, but I believe a couple should go through rigorous training on parenting before they plan to bring a kid into this world. I have seen parents resenting their children for ruining their freedom, money, and careers. 

Parenting is not a cakewalk, it requires a lot of patience. I think you are living in the stone age if you have not heard how a child could be a “fixer” of all sorts of problems between a couple in this society. I have seen women getting pregnant to “save” their marriage, or they keep having babies until they have a boy child. A baby should be a blessing who would need everything to grow up well to take the human race forward, not a tool to fix any broken relationship.  

This tiny planet in this universe is exploding with 7.9 billion people and I am more concerned about the world population clock than my biological clock. People think they are entitled to give unsolicited advice to women in their 30s to listen to their biological clock and have a baby before it is too late. I am sorry, I don’t hear it ticking. 

The decision to stay child-free does not make me a monster, nor are we destroying the fabric of society. I am a doting aunt which my nephew and niece might attest. They mean the world to me. They make me feel accomplished, along with everything I have achieved in my life so far. I penned this piece to give a shout out to all those Bangali women who do not want to experience motherhood to come out of the shell and have the freedom to live a child-free life without being judged.

Kohinur Khyum Tithila is Staff Reporter, Dhaka Tribune.

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