Rural women in India have always been dehumanized and the latest case brought to light is that scores of women are being sterilized sans basic sanitary amenities and, perhaps most shockingly, under torchlight.
According to Bikyamasar, an Egyptian-based news organization, health right activist Devika Biswas filed a petition to the Supreme Court of India against the vile conditions that these surgeries are performed under. The court, in return, has issued notices to the state and federal governments, giving them eight weeks to respond to the petition.
According to the report, Biswas cited various state-run camps run by doctors, who have no regard for life and treat the impoverished women like cattle. As hospital authorities are required to reach sterilization targets imposed by the government, many of these women got sick and in several cases even died as a consequence of the procedures. Biswas alleged that there were instances where the operations weren't effective, the report said.
Their target is 1 per cent population of the [village] block should be sterilized per year. I have evidence to show that sterilization operations are conducted under torchlight. The operations are conducted without even consent forms and the poor uneducated women are not even informed about other contraception choices which are available, Biswas was quoted saying to Bikyamasar.
According to The Times of India, a surgeon conducted 53 sterilization operations within two hours in a school classroom in the state of Bihar early January. The operations were performed without any sterilized equipment or running water and as a result several women bled profusely and required immediate treatment.
Reports and fact-findings from Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh demonstrate that standards of hygiene, consent and care are routinely ignored in sterilization camps, Biswas said in a statement on the publication. In all cases, poor, tribal and rural women are the victims of these unsafe and illegal practices.
These government-operated sterilization policies were initiated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 1970s as a means to prevent the occurrence of defective genetic traits in the Indian population. During that period, thousands of men and women had undergone vasectomy as part of the program's family planning initiative. These strategies failed to hold down population growth, but have nevertheless continued into the 21st century.