Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sterilisation? Take my wife!

Have you ever thought of undergoing the sterilisation procedure? Of the everlasting freedom you would get from all concerning thoughts about whether you are pregnant or not, simultaneously without losing your sexual abilities? 

Everything sounds nice if it is your own choice. But 83 women who were recently sterilised in Chhattisgarh, India, within only six hours, cannot admit they made their decision without any pressure from the family, health workers, and the society as a whole. 

Encouraged to undergo the surgery by getting between $10 to $23, 13 of them died and dozens of them fell sick because the doctor used contaminated medicines and rusty surgical equipment. The Mass Sterilisation Camp in Chhattisgarh saw the highest death toll due to the procedure in its recent history, shedding the light on the most common birth control method used in India. 

As many as 65 percent of Indian women aged between 15 and 49 have chosen the sterilisation as the form of preventing themselves from getting pregnant, according to the United Nations figures. Did you know that female sterilisation is globally the most common method of contraception? 

In fact, contraceptive pill is most common only in developed countries, while developing countries prefer to rely on the irreversible procedure, which basically always means female sterilisation, a much more risky surgery than vasectomy. 

Let’s take a look at some figures:
  • 37 percent of all sterilised women on earth come from India
  • 47 percent of women in the Dominican Republic chose sterilisation as contraception
  • 39 percent of women in Puerto Rico also underwent the sterilisation
  • Around 4.6 million women were sterilised in India between 2011 and 2012
  • Only 1 percent of Indian men have had a vasectomy, compared to 36 percent of women having undergone sterilisation

Now the question arises, why so many women have undergone such a risky and difficult procedure across so many countries if the vasectomy is a much simpler surgery? A woman after sterilisation usually must stay in a hospital for a few days. A man after vasectomy can go home after this simple 15-minute-long procedure. 

In order to make a woman infertile, her abdomen must be open with an around 5 cm long cut to have her tubes tied. This usually involves a general anaesthetic. After the surgery, a woman can feel pain and all in all the surgery is much more invasive. A man needs a local anaesthetic to have his tubes that connect testicles to prostrate cut and tied. There is no pain as such involved in the procedure, apart from the one felt during the anaesthetic injection. 

A man could possibly make much more women pregnant within nine months than a woman deliver babies throughout her lifetime. If the government’s goal is to apply social birth control, why do they target women, and not men? 

Although vasectomy is a simple and non-invasive procedure, there is much more fear throbbing around it than around female sterilisation. First is the fear of pain. Ask any guy, everyone is doddering, shrinking and fretting on the thought of a surgery around their testicles. Unlike to what they show in the movies, to all those heroes who can stand any pain, have their arm or leg cut off without anaesthesia, in general men are indeed less insusceptible to pain than women. 

One, almost equally massive fear that predominates among men, is losing their virility after the vasectomy. It is a myth that a man will cease to be masculine together with the procedure. Actually, erections and sex drive stay unaffected. Plus, the freedom from worry of pregnancy can even enhance a couple’s sex life. 

Moreover, quite many rumours persist about the complications of such a surgery, while, in fact, vasectomy is one of the most studied of all medical procedures and everything indicates that it is safe. 

Shouldn’t such information be spread all around the world? Why is it that women have to sacrifice their lives only in order to safe a man from his mythological fear of losing his virility? Women in developing countries should be informed of other contraceptive options, which are often safer and much less invasive. It is always about the right to choose and once again that right being taken away from women. 

Other side of the lack of choice emerges in Poland, where apparently limiting people’s freedom of choice is a commonly used practice. There, it is illegal for a doctor to conduct a sterilisation as the law says a person who deprives another person from the ability to procreate, risks spending 10 years in prison. You cannot legally sterilise yourself in Poland, even when you have seven children, you are poor or unhealthy or another pregnancy could pose a risk to your life. 

While in most of developed countries sterilisation is officially recorded as one of the birth control methods or it is simply legal, if you happen to live in Poland or be poor in India, you can find it challenging to decide about your procreation rights and your own future. 

But who else will live your life for you rather than yourself?

Written by Nakshatri

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