Women Talk

Womb vs. Wages: Reality of These Beed District Women will leave you shocked

For living, Beed district women have to adopt a Hysterectomy. Child marriage, Fear, bonded labour- A sad reality of Beed


Highlights:

  • What is Hysterectomy?
  • Why are women in Maharashtra’s Beed district getting their wombs removed?
  • My uterus fell out
  • Complications of hysterectomy
  • Child marriage, Fear, bonded labour- A sad reality of Beed

A disturbing number of Beed district women of Maharashtra are getting their wombs removed. But do you know what this medical procedure is and why women are getting this done in the Beed district?

What is Hysterectomy?

It is a surgery to remove a woman’s uterus or womb, which results in no menstrual periods and no pregnancy in operated women. In medical terms, it is also known as surgical menopause.

As per the  National Health survey of the UK, a hysterectomy is a major operation with a long recovery time and is only considered after less invasive treatments have been tried. However, it has attained a different level of normalcy in Beed.

Why are women in Maharashtra’s Beed district getting their wombs removed?

As per a study in 2019, over 13861 women had undergone a hysterectomy out of 82309 women surveyed. The primary reason for this trend is farm work’s exploitative nature.

Read More- Linkedin is not matrimonial site: Send Recommendations, not Rishtas!

Most women’s sugarcane cutters are taking the step to increase their productivity as they believe menstruation hinders work.

‘My Uterus fell Out’

Contractors hire a large number of migrant labourers to cut and deliver the sugarcane produce to mills. These labourers, usually married couples who work as a unit, are promised around ₹ 1 lakh to ₹ 1.5 lakh in wages annually.

To meet their targets, they work for around 12-16 hours every day without offs, as a day gap attracts hefty fines of at least ₹ 500.

Consequently, women are forced to work even through periods and pregnancies. To avoid this, many women opt to pay for expensive, one-time surgery to remove their wombs.

Sojarbai Owhal, sugarcane labour, told Vice Asia that she was back to cutting sugarcane just a month after having a baby. “I had just delivered the baby, so lifting heavy weights led to my uterus falling out. I have to lift around 50 kilograms or even more. I could feel my uterus between my legs while walking”, said Sojarbai.

Some contractors even offer advances to women to get the surgery to make them more employable.

Complications of hysterectomy

Most of these surgeries happen after they have given birth to children already. However, hysterectomies can have adverse impacts on health, such as

Hormonal imbalance
Calcium deficiency
And body acne,
Which can, in turn, make them sicker. Some of the possible complications are:

General anesthetic complications

Bleeding
Ureter damage
Bladder or bowel damage
Infection
Blood clots
Vaginal problems
Ovary failure.

Child marriage, Fear, bonded labour- A sad reality of Beed

Social worker and activist Manisha Tokle went to the Beed district to get a bird’s eye view of the new norm in the Kathoda village. She learned that women in this area are married off early and become part of the unregistered sugarcane labour force.

The farms they work in lack access to basic amenities such as clean water and toilets, often leading to infections that go untreated for years.

Tokle says, “For their malpractice, these doctors exploit women in such a way that these women have to go through so much pain and suffering. Cane women workers are petrified that they will get cancer and eventually die if they don’t operate.”

This Fear is enough for these workers to get convinced to remove their wombs.

Where continuous steps are taken to promote the use of protection (condom) and other safer birth control methods, Beed women are forced to adopt such painful procedures. Are the ongoing steps enough if these unprivileged and socially, economically backward workers are not to take benefit of it?

Among several recommendations, a committee chaired by Dr. Neelam Gorhe, deputy speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Council at the time, suggested the issuance of health cards to the migrant women workers population. It would benefit women with regular medical check-ups, a standard operating procedure (SOP) for surgeons before conducting such operations, etc.

However, reality varies at large from what is mentioned in the papers.

Who is responsible here; Government, Farm owners, Doctors, Or lack of education?

Cane workers in Beed are thus stuck in a perpetual cycle of wage slavery. Labourers, especially women, continue to be victimized by wage cuts, oppressive work practices, money-hungry contractors, and private surgeons.

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Ayushi Mittal

In her journey to become a journalist, Ayushi can inculcate your tale through her news writings. You may find her with a mike in protests, rallies, or in museums. So what's your story?
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