India conducted a state-run mass sterilization campaign that went horribly wrong, killing 11 women and putting 60 or more in critical condition at Nemi Chand hospital. Over 80 women underwent surgery for laparoscopic tubectomies (which is a surgery that blocks or clips fallopian tubes, preventing women from conceiving children) at a free government-run camp (“sterilization camps”) in the central state of Chhattisgarh on Saturday. 60 of those women fell ill afterwards and then eight died and shortly after that, the toll rose to 11. Officials are pointing the finger at blood poisoning or hemorrhagic shock as the cause of death. Surprisingly, government-run camps like these, where women are paid (almost $23 USD) to become sterilized are common in India and are a part of a long-running effort to control their 1.26 billion population (the world’s second most populous nation).
The UN has expressed concern at the deaths. “If the facts are confirmed, then a grave human tragedy has occurred,” said Kate Gilmore, deputy executive director of the UN Population Fund. “Where there is deviation from clinical standards, there must be consequences.”
These terrible surgeries have been going on in India for quite some time now and more than four million of these operations were performed since 2013, according to the government. What’s even more shocking is that this program isn’t forced or required, it’s completely voluntary. But women who go through this surgery are often financially coerced. It was just last year that authorities in eastern India were under fire after a news channel exposed footage that showed unconscious women being dumped into a field after a mass sterilization. Many of the families of the deceased have been paid out by the government. Hush money.
The Indian government enforces quotas and even offers doctors financial incentives for doing the procedures. This often leads to botched and rushed surgeries. Even if these procedures were perfectly done, the women who undergo them would still be left to die as medicine is often our of date, in short supply or watered down.
Four doctors have been suspended and police have registered a criminal complaint. Television footage showed women on stretchers being rushed into hospital with anxious relatives by their side. The chief minister of Chhattisgarh, one of India’s poorest states, has ordered an investigation. The women who go through the surgery are given 1,400 rupees (which is almost $23 USD) by the state. In fact, local governments in India often offer incentives such as cars and electrical goods to women volunteering for sterilization. “The payment is a form of coercion, especially when you are dealing with marginalized communities,” said Kerry McBroom, director of the Reproductive Rights Initiative at the Human Rights Law Network in New Delhi.
So what about the Indian men? Why not sterilize them? It’s obvious that a vasectomy is way less invasive and dangerous. India’s family planning program has always focused on women and male sterilization is not socially accepted. Why do women all over the world suffer the most? How many more Indian women have to die before something is done about these sterilization camps?
Lift Your Spirits Today: