Summary and Info
Hariti is the ancient Indian goddess of childbirth and women healers, known at one time throughout South and Southeast Asia from India to Nepal and Bali. The book looks at her 'daughters' today, female midwives and healers in many different cultures across the region. In some places they are skilled and respected professionals, elsewhere low-caste menials whose primary function is to deal with the 'pollution' of birth. The Daughters of Hariti also traces the transformation of childbirth in these cultures under the impact of Western biomedical technology, national and international health policies and the wider factors of social and economic change. The authors look at the various situations of birthing mothers in these societies and the choices facing them and their families. They ask what can be done to improve the high rates of maternal and infant deaths and illnesses still associated with childbirth in most societies in this area. Is the wholesale replacement of indigenous knowledge by Western biomedical technology necessarily a good thing? Even where it might be, can the delivery of biomedical technology be improved so that it is more accessible and relevant to the needs of birthing mothers?