MUMBAI: Over 13,000 sugarcane migrant labourers from Beed are estimated to have undergone hysterectomy, an inquiry committee has revealed.
The seven-member committee under deputy chairperson of the Maharashtra legislative council Dr Neelam Gorhe has also suggested a slew of measures to tackle this social distress in the 140-page report.
"Information on 82,309 women in Beed district was collected by grassroots workers. It was found that 13,861 of the women surveyed had had their wombs removed in the past decade. Most of them are in the age group of 35-40 while a small section under 25 too has undergone hysterectomy. Personal interviews, group discussions and in-camera testimonies were also collected from a group of about 400 women," Dr Gorhe said after the report was submitted to the government.
Early marriages, lack of awareness on women’s health issues, poverty, lack of pre- and post-operative counselling, water scarcity and absence of menstrual hygiene and toilets have been enlisted by the committee as the causes for the mass scale hysterectomies in the district.
"We found that due to early marriage and repetitive child berths women in the area face several health issues including infections etc. and instead of getting right treatment for such health issues, the women tend to go for hysterectomy to end the health issues once and for all," Dr Gorhe said adding that the women were not being forced into uterus removal and the problem is complex.
The committee has recommended issuance of health cards to migrant women workers population to facilitate regular medical check-ups, a standard operating procedure (SOP) for surgeons before conducting such procedures and a monthly report of such operations, as remedial measures.
The committee was set up in June this year after it was reported that hundreds of women were undergoing hysterectomy just to avoid loss of daily wages. The migrant sugarcane laborers are promised around Rs 1 to Rs 1.5 lakh in wages per year and to be able to achieve the target they are made to work for near about 12 hours of the day. To make this happen women spend around Rs 25 to Rs 30,000 on hysterectomy surgery.
"Such women then have to face several health issues and hence we feel that awareness is the key," Dr Gorhe said.