Hysterectomies among women sugarcane workers rocks Beed

Last Updated : 13 June 2019, 14:03 IST

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The increasing number of hysterectomies among the women sugarcane workers in the Beed district of Marathwada region of Maharashtra has rattled the government, NGOs and self-help groups.

Large number of families from Marathwada region migrate to the sugar belt of western Maharashtra, working as sugarcane harvesters.

The migrant women workers are charged a penalty of around Rs 500 if they refrain from work during their menstrual period. Hence, to get rid of menstrual periods, which affect their work and earning, the women opt for hysterectomies.

Thousands of such women workers have been induced by private hospitals in Beed to undergo unnecessary hysterectomy.

Various groups like Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, Ekal Mahila Sanghatan, Jana Aarogya Abhiyan and Bharatiya Mahila Federation have united to raise the issue in Mumbai.

“These women have early marriages, repeated deliveries, extensive physical work, lack of basic facilities at sugarcane farms and indebtedness for the procedure of hysterectomies," said senior activist Trupti Malti.

She added that the women claimed that they get no prior information by doctors about the implications of the surgery. None was given any medical reports, and post-operative complications such as backache and weakness were common.

A group of women from Beed met Shiv Sena MLCs Neelam Gorhe and Manisha Kayande seeking to raise the issue in the ensuing monsoon session of the Maharashtra legislature.

They demanded that the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) should take immediate punitive action against all the doctors involved, whose medical license might get cancelled. Detailed inquiry should be done in 11 private hospitals from Beed district, where most of the hysterectomies were performed. Women on whom unwarranted hysterectomies have been performed, should be provided compensation and those private hospitals should bear the cost.

“Of the total 271 cases surveyed in Beed district during 2018, 72 were hysterectomies. In India the standard hysterectomy rate is 3 while in Maharashtra it is just 2.5. On this backdrop the rate in Beed in 2018 comes to 36 which is 14 times higher than the normal,” said Achyut Borgaonkar.

“According to the latest survey of the same district, 85% of hysterectomies have been performed in private hospitals and almost half of that is performed in a single hospital,” said Borgaonkar.

“It’s a vicious cycle. The labor contractor gives advance (to sugarcane workers) and in turn we have to work for almost over 12 hours a day to repay the money. Hefty interest, that comes to around 50% per year at times, is levied if we fail to repay the money. This forces us to take up the work even if we don’t wish to,” said Sheela Waghmare, one of the workers.

Published 13 June 2019, 13:33 IST

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