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01/22/2020 Special > Special

Title

The Relationship Between Birth Control and Women’s Rights

Kim Sun-hyung (School of Nursing, Master's Program) talks about taking care of women’s health in her new book

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Contents
Contrary to Korea’s rapid development that thrusted the country from a war-ridden land to a leading nation of the information technology sector, many people have expressed concern over the conservative culture of the hermit kingdom which has yet to follow its development. Sex and birth control are subjects of taboo—which have been regarded as things to be discussed behind closed doors. However, Kim Sun-hyung (School of Nursing, Master's Program) sees them as directly related to human health, which should be understood by both genders. In her recent book, We Don’t Know Birth Control examines these issues with an introduction to the history of birth control, the various methods of contraception, and women’s rights.
Kim Sun-hyung (School of Nursing, Master's Program) worked as a nurse for 10 years before she became an editor for the book publishing company Param.
“There are many diseases and difficulties regarding pregnancy, and many people express concern over having no choice but to give birth,” said Kim. “I think that bringing these issues out can improve society. Throwing away the humiliation that comes from this topic will make people take an active role in taking care of their health.” Working as a nurse for 10 years, Kim has seen many women in various stages of life. Teenagers, pregnant women, housewives and working mothers would lay down their worries to Kim and talk of their real-life issues. Kim was interested about how their lives and relationships with their families affect the society, which was why she started writing her book.
Kim's We Don’t Know Birth Control published by Param
(Photo courtesy of Param)
The earliest records of birth control date back to the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian eras in 1850 BC. These records show that there were birth control methods that placed honey, acacia leaves, and crocodile dung in the vagina. At the time, people thought it would block sperm from entering the womb. On the other hand, the most widely used contraceptive device, condoms, were invented in the early 18th century. Unlike today’s latex condoms, they were at first made of linen or the intestines of young sheep. Thanks to Charles Goodyear’s invention of vulcanized rubber in 1844, its mass production become possible, which offered a cheap and safe solution to safe sex that is used to this day. There are other contraceptive methods such as birth pills and chemical shots. However, Kim said that people should always stay on the safe side by using condoms or female condoms with an additional birth control method when they have sex. She added that wearing a condom or a female condom is especially important because creating a physical barrier between sexual organs is the only way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STD) such as the human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV).
Kim now works at Param as an editor. She writes and translates books on women's health and human rights.
Shifting to the topic of women’s rights and the ban on birth control, the author introduced a revolutionary incident that became a landmark for contraception and the rights of women. Griswold v. Connecticut was a 1965 case about the access to contraception in Connecticut, United States. Before the trial, Connecticut law prohibited anyone from using "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception." The Supreme Court invalidated the law as a violation to the right to marital privacy, which established a basis for the right to privacy with respect to intimate practices. Putting contraception in line with privacy enabled women to take care of themselves, allowing them to be in charge of their own bodies.

“The right to reproduce and the right to choose for oneself are consequently the freedom not to give birth and the freedom to decide for themselves,” said Kim. “We need to recognize these things: ‘I have these rights,’ ‘I have the right to stay healthy,’ and ‘preventing conception is also my right.’ In a way, this is an act that takes responsible for ‘me’ in the future.”

click to order a copy of We Don’t Know Birth Control



Jung Myung-suk        kenj3636@hanyang.ac.kr
Photos by Lee Hyeon-seon
Design by Oh Chae-won
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