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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Culture, health & sexuality
Title The Catholic Church and reproductive health and rights in Timor-Leste: contestation, negotiation and cooperation
Author(s)
Volume 17
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 343-358
URL http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/ref/10.1080/13691058.2014.966255?scroll=top
Abstract
In Timor-Leste, high fertility, high maternal mortality and low levels of contraceptive prevalence demonstrate the importance of exploring perceptions, policies and practices around reproductive health and rights. This paper explores the influence of the Catholic Church on reproductive decision-making at different levels of policy and practice. Utilising a feminist qualitative research methodology, in-depth interviews were conducted with a range of participants including nuns and priests, Timorese women and men of different ages and backgrounds and local and national stakeholders working in reproductive health and women's rights. Findings reveal that the Church is reported to play a significant role in reproductive health and rights decision-making at all levels of society, from policy-making to the reproductive decisions made by individual Timorese women and men. Nevertheless, the translation of Church teachings into practice, particularly by nuns, priests and Timorese men and women, reveal a range of attitudes and opinions; some that support and others that contest official Catholic doctrine. In light of the significant influence of the Timorese Catholic Church on policy and practice at many levels of society, there is a need to prioritise the development of rights-based strategies to improve reproductive health services in Timor-Leste.

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