About 14 women have died following mass sterilisations in Chhattisgarh. Apart from medical and administrative apathy, the incident highlights a gender bias too

Ubiquitous Gender Bias Persists Here As Wellchhattisgarh sterilisations CHHATTISGARH STERILISATIONS   HORROR STORIES

  1. Many horror stories regarding sterilisation camps conducted in Chhattisgarh have emerged in recent days. There are reports of doctors performing a surgical marathon of sorts by operating on as many as 83 women in just 5 hours. At least 14 women have died and many 60 others have fallen sick. Symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, bleeding, high fever and vomiting have been reported. 90 of the 130 women operated on are still in hospital; several of them in critical condition.
  2. Various agencies such as the administration, poor clinical hygiene, adulterated medicines and other factors are being blamed for the tragedies reported . In the outcry that has followed this lamentable event, there are several other issues that need to be examined here.
  3. It is obvious that there were significant breach of medical protocols if claimed number of tubectomy procedures were in fact performed in the short space of time reported. Reportedly these procedures take place in makeshift rural clinics that are squalid and ill equipped, surgical instruments used without proper sterilisation, and practically no follow up care at all. (Source – Yahoo).
  4. Obviously for the doctors it was more important to just get the job done as quickly as possible, rather than to take proper precautions and safeguard the wellbeing of the women. Health workers and other administrative staff are clearly apathetic. Reportedly they receive cash bonuses for targets that are met. There is something very wrong here: government agencies are carrying out policies aimed at controlling population, doctors are under pressure to meet targets and innocent women are dying in the bargain.
  5. The operations are carried out by offering money. About Rs 1,400 was offered to each woman who got herself sterilized. This itself is reprehensible because these are some of the poorest and most marginalised on communities in the country. The lure of receiving an amount that equals about two weeks of wages can certainly inveigle poor, uneducated people into undergoing a medical procedure about which they know little if anything.
  6. Young Baiga women India CHHATTISGARH STERILISATIONS   HORROR STORIES Further these mass sterilisations have been carried out among women from some of India’s protected tribes. The Baiga are ancient indigenous communities known for their unique culture and the government policies are geared towards protecting these cultures. Sterilisations among these communities (the Baiga are one of country’s isolated “relic tribes”) are prohibited.
  7. And in this matter as well, India’s all pervasive gender bias enters into the equation. 19 times as many women undergo sterilisations than do men in Chhattisgarh. Horrifyingly this is a nationwide trend and the ratios are even worse in other states. In a state with some of the best health indicators in the country, Tamil Nadu, the ratio of tubectomy to vasectomy is 165. In Assam, the ratio is 101, in Gujarat the ratio is 93, in Bihar it is 72, in Karnataka the ratio is 70. (Source – Indian Express)sterilise CHHATTISGARH STERILISATIONS   HORROR STORIES
  8. The general belief is that it is women who bear the children and so it is the female who should undergo the procedure to limit the number of pregnancies. Secondly there is the mistaken notion that male sterilisations (vasectomies) would somehow negatively impact a man’s ‘manhood’ that makes men refuse to undergo a medical procedure. This is in spite of the fact that male sterilisations are easier than female sterlisations and carry far lower risks.

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