Margaret Sanger, "Taj Mahal Hotel Luncheon Speech," Dec 22 1935.
Source: " Mr. Gandhi's Views on Birth Control, The Times of India, Dec. 23, 1935, p. 9."
Sanger spoke to the Society for the Study and Promotion of Family Hygiene at a tea held at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay, India. Edith How-Martyn also spoke at the meeting which was chaired by Lt. Col.S. S. Sokhey.
The details of a conversation between Mr. Gandhi and Mrs. Sanger on the subject of birth control were disclosed at a select gathering in Bombay on Sunday evening. The occasion was a tea party given at the Taj Mahal Hotel by the Society for the Study and Promotion of Family Hygiene to Mrs. Margaret Sanger, who recently returned to Bombay after a tour during which she met Mr. Gandhi.
Mr. Gandhi, Mrs. Sanger said, agreed with her on all points in regard to birth control except the methods of adopting it. The question when she went to him was whether she would convert him or he would convert her. “And believe me,” she added, “he did not convert me.” (Laughter).
“But was he converted?” asked a voice.
“I do not know,” replied Mrs. Sanger.
Mr. Gandhi, the lecturer continued, agreed with her that birth control was an important question, but he, like many other people, believed that "control" was a wide term and that it meant something more than limitation. The method which Mr. Gandhi advocated was continence and restraint, not only outside marriage but in marriage also.
Mrs. Sanger continued that she had asked Mr. Gandhi whether he considered that a practical solution, knowing that of all the women in the world Indian women were less equipped economically and socially to go out into the world. He had replied that they could have divorce laws.
Mrs. Sanger further said: “I told him ‘all this sounds rather chaotic to me, and I believe the men will be on my side. Men would prefer the methods of birth control that I advocate rather than yours’. He said: ‘Women will be on my side.’ (Laughter). We have yet to find out of that will be so,” added Mrs. Sanger.
Before she came to India, Mrs. Sanger said, she had been told that she was not likely to succeed in her mission because Indian mothers were fond of children and liked to have many, irrespective of what she state of their (mothers’) health was. On questioning mothers during their visits to slums in Bombay and in northern India, however, she had invariably got the reply that they had had enough children and wanted no more. They were anxious to have some means by which they could space their children.
Mrs. How-Martyn, who was present at the gathering, stated that those working on behalf of birth control in India had an advantage over their colleagues in the West, as they could have the benefit of the experience of the latter.
A silver casket was presented to Mrs. Sanger, who has been elected vice-president of the Society, by Lt.-Col. Jelal M. Shah, on behalf of the editor of Marriage Hygiene.
Lt.-Col. S. S. Sokhey, the chairman of the Council of the Society, proposed a vote of thanks to Mrs. Sanger.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project