A Supreme Court ruling says there
cannot be more than 30 female sterilization surgeries by a team of doctors in a
day. The ruling also says a doctor cannot perform more than 10 such surgeries
in a day. The convention also says such surgeries can only be performed in a government
The doctor in question, rewarded
by the state health minister of Chhattisgarh for scoring the 50,000 mark of
such surgeries and arrested now, performed 83 surgeries in five hours in a
private hospital that was not in operation for months.
13 of these women died after
developing complications. Many are still serious and in hospitals. And there
are reports of hospitalization from some other camps as well.
And 'such' deaths make for
regular news flow. What happened in Chhattisgarh is not a standalone incident.
Yes, but the way it happened pulled the global attention. A Google survey will
return with reports in almost every language.
Every human life lost owing to
such misplaced and ill-conceived human priorities is an utter shame but we are
living in an age of lost priorities.
Smaller number of deaths don't
figure at all beyond the local news coverage. Even this huge calamity was not
potent enough to storm a national outrage and serious debate. No social media
campaign was launched. No 'such' self-proclaimed advocates came forward. It did
not trend beyond the realm of news making machinery.
And 'such' deaths just didn't
happen now. They have had a long history, dotting the timeline of the independent
Female sterilization surgery has
been in regular use. Earlier, it was a state policy tool, with targets
explicitly fixed. In fact, it was a state policy forcefully implemented during
the Emergency years. Later, to make it look more progressive and inclusive, the
process was made voluntary with more emphasis on educating the participants on
family planning practices.
But most of it remained on papers,
especially in small town, rural and hinterland India. Targets were fixed
unofficially. Targets are still fixed unofficially. And 'such' surgeries have
continued with their botched-up legacy.
Statistical reports say 12 women
die every day in India owing to the botched sterilization surgeries or
complications arising after the surgeries. Official figures say over 1400 people
died in 'such' surgeries between 2003 and 2012, almost of them being women, and
the statistical history dates deep back in time.
Now, India is a vast country when
we map it in terms of its population. Around 1.25 billion people, distributed
mostly across the small town or rural India, and most of the them just somehow
surviving their living conditions. Enough is a word seldom arrived in their
lives on their day-to-day requirements.
Hunger, healthcare, education and
shelter are chronic issues still affecting the large swaths of Indian
demographic landscape and the 'subjects' of most such female sterilization
camps come from these population realms.
According to the reports, the
governments offers monetary and other incentives to the 'subjects'. Yes
'subjects' because the conceiver and developers of such plans don't see them
beyond this as revealed by the continuance of such target driven practices.
The reports say the monetary
reward for women (tubectomy) is Rs. 1000 while the monetary compensation for
men (vasectomy) is Rs. 2000. Why this gap? This is when tubectomy has greater
complications than vasectomy. Some other reports say the incentive is Rs. 1400
adding that the National Population Policy discourages it. At the same time,
the local health workers and doctors are also provided with incentives to bring
more and more women to the sterilization surgery camps, like this Chhattisgarh
doctor was awarded by the state government.
It is by now a deeply entrenched
social malaise made permanent by the tentacles of a patriarchal society. Women
are still considered secondary or inferior family members in social formations
that make for most of the 'subjects' of 'such' female sterilization camps. The
extreme position it has taken should become clear from the fact that we never
discuss 'male sterilization camps' or 'male sterilization deaths'.
And all for Rs. 1000 or Rs. 1400
or so! From an urban, metro middle-class lifestyle, that doesn't make anything.
But for poor families dotting the
Indian population across its geographical formations, it is a great sum that
they rarely find in their possession in one go. And crushed by the conceited
male egos and libidos, they choose or are coaxed to opt for or are forced to go
for that 'elusive stash of cash', never thinking or questioning that their
husbands doing so would be easier and probably more lucrative.