Construire le corps féminin à travers les pratiques obstétricales à Phnom Penh, Cambodge

Abstract : Cambodia is one of the nine countries worldwide to have reached the United Nations - MDG 5. A reflection of this achievement is a 75% drop in the national maternal mortality ratio from 1020 to 161 deaths for 100 000 live births between 1990 and 2015. This success is the result of voluntary public policies i.e. a family planning policy; the set-up of health care financing systems; and the training of thousands of midwives across the country. A deep sociological transformation can also help to explain this success. While childbirth in Cambodia used to be a private event, which took place at home, it has now become a public event for women and their families. In 2000, less than 10% of women were giving birth in a medicalized structure. By 2014, this number rose to over 80%, showing the sudden and massive biomedicalization of childbirth across the country. This socio-demographic research challenges the idealized vision of the United Nations regarding maternal health in Cambodia by showing and observing obstetrical practices on the ground, from an empirical study led in several setups in Phnom Penh and in Kandal province (rural sector). This mixed method research draws from participant observation, semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals and patients (men and women), questionnaires with pregnant women (pre- and post- childbirth), as well as examination of medical records from four Phnom Penh maternity wards. The results show that episiotomies are systematically performed in some hospitals and clinics, in contradiction with international recommendations. Furthermore, the number of caesarean sections in Phnom Penh has almost tripled in fifteen years, and since the beginning of the 2000s it is above the 10% threshold recommended by the WHO. Finally, in the capital city, a common practice is observed: perineorraphy, which aims at tightening the vagina of young and healthy women shortly after a vaginal delivery without any medical indication. These three obstetrical practices have historical roots and are now frequently used outside of their medical purpose, as a response to a rising social demand. In this research, women' body has been considered as a social and political object that reveals social relationships, where many power negotiations occur. The thesis shows that these three obstetrical practices are interconnected and form a system. At the intersection between body, gender and biomedicine, these different obstetrical practices can be understood as tool of domination that seeks to shape the female body according to social expectations. In this way, the perception of gender in a society shapes the female body, and more precisely, the female sexual organs. Nevertheless, some of these practices are nowadays consciously chosen by women to increase their erotic capital, in an attempt to renegotiate gender relationships and preserve marital harmony.
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Clémence Schantz. Construire le corps féminin à travers les pratiques obstétricales à Phnom Penh, Cambodge. Gynécologie et obstétrique. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016USPCB240⟩. ⟨tel-02077136⟩

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