CHENNAI: The incentive is double, compared to what is offered to women. Yet, hardly any men are man enough to undergo the simple process of sterilization, reveals data from the fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The situation is so dismal across the country that at least in five states, the figure for sterilised men is a big zero. Sikkim tops the list with the maximum number of sterilised men - an abysmal 3.4 per cent.
The NFHS has released the first phase of data covering 15 states and two union territories. Unfounded fears like weakness and inability to perform at work and in bed are the major reasons for reluctance among men, say experts. As a consequence, in the public mind, permanent birth control is still a procedure meant only for the women.
Sterilisation for men, called vasectomy, is an easy procedure performed without opening the abdomen. What is more, it is also reversible. In comparison, the procedure for women, called tubectomy, is more complicated and painful as it requires an abdominal surgery.
“Men continue to cling on to the archaic myth that they will not be able to lead a normal life if they undergo the procedure,” says Dr T K Shaanthy Gunasingh, head of the Centre of Sterilisation at Government Kilpauk Medical College in Chennai. “Such is the effect of this belief that women themselves prevent their men from doing vasectomy. They instead offer to undergo surgery,” she adds.
“The focus of most public health programmes and providers are women,” says Rudrakshina Banerjee, research programme officer at the Centre for Health and Social Justice, New Delhi. “There is hardly any counselling for men, which has led to a lack of awareness. As a result, men don’t see themselves as active participants,” she says. The need of the hour, according to Banerjee, is to have intensive interaction with men, making them active partners in family planning.