Maharashtra appoints panel to probe forced hysterectomies

Our Bureau Pune | Updated on June 19, 2019 Published on June 19, 2019

State govt will also establish standard norm for surgeries

Following reports published in BusinessLine on April 9 and 11, highlighting rampant hysterectomies among cane-cutters in Beed district, the Maharashtra government has decided to appoint a committee to probe the matter. The government also announced that it will put in place a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for hysterectomies.

The State Legislative Council on Tuesday discussed the issues highlighted by BusinessLine. Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) Neelam Gorhe, along with 11 others, raised the issue on the floor of the House. The members demanded that action be taken against those who are forcing hysterectomy procedure on women.

BusinessLine had highlighted that many cane-cutters in the drought-affected Beed district had to go for hysterectomy as they have to pay a fine to the contractor if they take a break from cane cutting during menstruation.

The National Commission for Women had taken cognisance of the reports and issued a notice to the State Chief Secretary.

Maharashtra’s Health Minister, Eknath Shinde, said the issue was “very serious” and the State had taken sincere note of it. He said that already the Beed district administration had appointed a five-member committee to probe the matter. Now, a committee headed by the Principal Secretary of the State Health Department will conduct a probe. He added that the Beed district administration has made it compulsory to seek the permission of the District Surgeon or the Superintendent of the district hospital for hysterectomies.

Read: Why many women in Maharashtra’s Beed district have no wombs

The government admitted that 99 private hospitals in Beed had conducted 4,605 hysterectomies during three years (2016-17 to 2018-19).

MLC Neelam Gorhe said the State government must take immediate steps to curb unwanted surgeries in Beed. She added that the role of beneficiaries in these forced surgeries must be exposed.

Five organisations — the Maharashtra Mahila Arogya Hakka Parishad, the Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, the Ekal Mahila Sanghatana, the Jan Aarogya Abhiyan and the Bhartiya Mahila Federation — took up the issue and recently convened a meeting to discuss the way forward.

The organisations have demanded that the State immediately approve the Clinical Establishment Act to bring private hospitals under government control.

The government must form a sugarcane workers’ board under the Social Security Act and the sugar mills must provide basic health facilities to cane cutters, they added.

Published on June 19, 2019

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