Family Planning in Timor-Leste - New Naratif

Repopulating Timor-Leste

You have eight children, because you want six.

This was the logic employed by many young women in the days of Timor-Leste’s independence nearly two decades ago. Family planning was a question of simple but tragic arithmetic: families had more children with the expectation that not all of them would survive.

Jacinta, a 37-year-old farmer from the semi-rural town of Gleno in the country’s coffee-rich Ermera municipality, has seven children. “Five still living,” she says. She wears the all-black outfit customary for women mourning the death of a close family member; a sister died several months ago. The black clothes would usually come off after a year, but for countless women in those first few years of independence, the outfits simply stayed on as deaths occurred in close succession.

Members only

Log in or

Join New Naratif as a member to continue reading


We are independent, ad-free and pro-democracy. Our operations are member-funded. Membership starts from just US$5/month! Alternatively, write to [email protected] to request a free sponsored membership. As a member, you are supporting fair payment of freelancers, and a movement for democracy and transnational community building in Southeast Asia.

Bookmark (0)
ClosePlease login

Related Articles