What's at stake in the fake?

Indian pharmaceuticals, African markets and global health

Fake prevention: Exploring the threat of fake pharmaceuticals on Tanzanian’s women ability to access their reproductive rights

Rhoda Bandora

My Masters Research thesis, titled “Fake prevention”: Exploring the threat of fake pharmaceuticals on Tanzanian’s women ability to access their reproductive rights, explores the lived experiences of women negotiating their access to contraceptives amidst Tanzania’s new reform to end family planning by attempting to understand women’s reactions to and their coping to with this policy in relation to social and cultural constructs of femininity, sexuality and womanhood. The study further argues that by banning the use of contraceptives in the country, contraceptives are only being pushed into the informal market in which fake pharmaceuticals possibly circulate.

How I came into this research study is informed by the discourse from researchers and policy makers who over the last few years have raised the alarm of the growing threat that fake pharmaceuticals pose to global health. However, I found that minimal research has been produced outside the pharmaceutical arena, that explores the social effects and influence the apparent growing threat of fake drugs have on people’s livelihoods. And most importantly, the existing literature has not explored this conversation through a feminist lens. So questioning and exploring this narrative through the intersections of patriarchy and gender oppression. And I thought that this a gap that, I wanted my research to explore and hopefully contribute and fill. Therefore by exploring the intersections between patriarchy and gender oppression, in the narratives around the prevalence of fake drugs and ultimately fake contraceptives, I hope to uncover whether this anxiety and fear is then rooted in perpetuating patriarchy and subjugation of women and the continuous war on women’s bodies.

Primary Research Question

  • In light of a growing threat of fake pharmaceuticals to the global market and Tanzania’s current policy reform of discouraging family planning methods, how do women in the country negotiate their access to contraceptives?


  • How do women in Tanzania speak about contraceptives?
  • What are women talking about when they are talking about ‘fakes’?
  • Why do they speak about them in the ways that they do?