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Sterilized women in India dumped in nearby field to recuperate

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The sterilization of women is a shameful practice conducted in India intended to curb population growth. The latest and most shameful incident is the case of four doctors at a rural Bengal hospital under pressure to sterilize 106 women in a single day. Photos are now emerging of women being forced to lie in a nearby open field following their surgeries.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A government hospital in West Bengal's Malda district is now facing an inquiry in the incident. In addition, four doctors at the government-run Manikchak Rural Hospital are under investigation.

Medical officials say that the women should have been kept under observation for at least three hours. Doctors instead ordered the women to be placed in an open, dirty field adjacent to the hospital, exposed to infection and to the eyes of onlookers.

The hospital, located 224 miles north of Kolkata, admittedly wasn't properly equipped to handle the large influx of patients. The hospital only has 60 beds, 30 each for men and women. According to local regulations, no more than 25 sterilizations are allowed per day.

Manikchak residents said that the hospital conducts sterilization drives regularly, but would put up tents for the patients in the past.

The sterilization camp began early in the morning and lasted until 7:30 p.m. Neither of the two doctors who spearheaded the drive were gynecologists, so a gynecologist from a nearby town was bussed in. The patients were sent home on cycle vans as the hospital doesn't have an ambulance of its own, India Today reports.

At least one woman had to be readmitted to Manikchak hospital after her cycle van collided with another vehicle on her way back home. She was referred to a district hospital with critical injuries.

"This is inhuman and we have ordered a probe into the incident," Biswa Ranjan Satpathi, West Bengal's director of health services told reporters.

Female sterilization drives have long been part of the Indian government's strategy for bringing its growing population under control. With over 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populated country in the world.

While there are no country-wide quotas, Human Rights Watch claims that state and district level authorities pressure local health workers to achieve numerical targets for female sterilizations.

Some Indian states offer incentives, such as cars, gold and sweepstakes that promote sterilization, according to Human Rights Watch.

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