Margaret Sanger, "Singapore Straits Times Interview," 14 Feb 1936.
Source: " "Continence or Science in Birth Control", Singapore Straits Times, Feb. 14, 1936, p. 12."
Standing room only on Singapore Island will result if the birth rate and Indian and Chinese migration continue as at present.
Continence between married people is difficult enough anywhere, and certainly far too difficult in India.
Birth control will succeed in the East.
Present day national aggression is a result of uncontrolled birth rates.
These are some of the views expressed by Mrs. Margaret Sanger, the world famous authority on birth control, when she arrived in Singapore in the Corfuyesterday.
Mrs. Sanger, who has been visiting India, and is going on to China, said that unless something was done to check uncontrolled births, Malaya would have the same population problem as India, China, and Japan. “Under the crushing pressure of populations, the Eastern countries will go back to barbarism,” she said.
If birth control was not introduced scientifically in Malaya, Mrs. Sanger said, Malayans would have to lower their standard of living. The important step of establishing scientific birth control should be taken by the public health authorities because it was an essential part of public health work.
Mrs. Sanger disclosed to the Straits Times her recent discussion with Gandhi on birth control in India. She said that Gandhi had made more occasions than ever before.
"Gandhi agreed with me that the population of India must be controlled,” Mrs. Sanger said. “He also though that the women must do the job, and that families should be regulated according to income and health.
“We disagreed however, on the methods of birth control.
“I wanted to base birth control on medical science, Gandhi wanted continence.
“Continence between married people is difficult enough anywhere and certainly far too difficult in India.
“Gandhi’s idea was that the women would co-operate and resist the attentions of the men. I could not share that view.
“Gandhi told me he was a practical idealist. I told him that I was a practical scientist.”
Mrs. Sanger said that she had asked Gandhi what he considered was a practical solution, knowing that all Indian women were less equipped economically and socially to go out into the world. He had replied that Indian women could have divorce laws.
“I told him that this all sounded rather chaotic to me,” she said. “I claimed that the Indian men would be on my side.
“We have yet to find out whether the women will be on Gandhi’s side.”
Mrs. Sanger said that Indian women were aroused to the importance of birth control. There were only two things that could be done to relieve India’s population crisis--let the people die by withdrawing safeguards against cholera and smallpox epidemics, or lower the birth rate. Surely the second course would be preferable to the nation.
The population of India had increased by 34 millions in the last 10 years. At that rate the population would be doubled in 40 years. If something was not done immediately the nation would return to barbarism.
Religion, ignorance and inertia were the three reasons for this.
Mrs. Sanger thinks that the campaign for birth control will eventually succeed in the East. It would take 10 years to get it started, however.
When she goes to China, Mrs. Sanger hopes to establish more birth control centers, and to arrange for proper health instruction for the men and women of China.
Mrs. Sanger gave a lecture to members of the Y.W.C.A. at Raffles Quay this morning.
Referring to appeals by Mussolini and Hitler for more children, Mrs. Margaret Sanger, the authority on birth control, who arrived in Singapore yesterday, said that when a nation with a small area had a high birth-rate and overpopulation, it means one of three things:
Lowering the standard of living, which led to revolution and civil war; Scientific control of the birth-rate, or Extension into a neighbor’s territory
Italy and Germany, the two countries in the West with high birth-rates and over-population were contemplating expansion into other nation’s territories. In the East, India and China had lowered their standard of living. Japan was apparently contemplating the same solution as Italy and Germany.
An uncontrolled birth-rate was, therefore, a cause of aggression.
Mrs. Sanger said that in India the population had increased by 34 millions in the last 10 years. At this rate the present population of India would be doubled in about 40 years, which would create an impossible position. There was no accommodation for extra population.
On top of this, the death rate was decreasing. Many lives that were previously lost by cholera, small-pox and bad food and water were being saved by modern hygiene.
The maternal welfare centres had also saved the lives of many mothers and babies in the last seven years.
Mrs. Sanger said that scientific birth control methods were gradually spreading from the West to the East.
Born of Irish-American parents in Corning, New York, it was the conditions Mrs. Sanger met as a nurse among the East Side poor in New York City that drove her to dedicate her life to securing for women the right to scientific birth control information.
She has carried her message throughout the length and breadth of the United States, to Canada, England, Russia, China, and Japan. She has organized birth control leagues, clinics, and conferences, national and international. Denounced, persecuted, and jailed, she never wavered, and today she is recognized as the world leader of the birth control movement.
Bernard Shaw has called birth control the most revolutionary discovery of the past century. H. G. Wells says that Margaret Sanger is the greatest biological revolutionary the world has ever known.
In America, through the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, of which she is president, she is attempting to secure amendments to the Federal laws which prohibit the sending of contraceptive information and supplies through the mails, by express, or other common carriers.
Mrs. Sanger said that leaders of thought in India were supporting her in the movement for scientific birth control. As evidence of this she had just received the following letter from Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian poet:
“Dear Margaret Sanger--I am of opinion that the birth control movement is a great movement not only because it will save women from enforced and undesirable maternity, but because it will help the cause of peace by lessening the number of surplus population of a country, scrambling for food and space outside its own rightful limits.”
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project