Sterilisation is a permanent birth control method, and it is most effective for men and women alike if performed safely and ethically. Like all other contraceptive measures, it is also purposeful in advancing reproductive health and choices of couples and individuals. But the recent scenario in India has proven the contrary. In a recent case in Arharia district of Bihar, 15 women died after undergoing sterilisation. These women underwent the surgery at a sterilisation camp organised by the government of Bihar. The surgeries were performed in complete violation of the Ramakant Rai guidelines, which have been issued by the Supreme Court for the same.

Sterilisation in India is being promoted, by the state governments, as a population control measure, in form of such camps and the health workers are being given ‘targets’ of sterilisation. Sterilisation being performed at the mass scale, surgeries lack proper procedure and quality listed in the Ramakant Rai guidelines. This results in negative side effects and death and even sterilisation failure. The health workers target the women from “backward communities” to fulfil the sterilisation targets. It is observed that in most of the cases women are not consented and are unaware of other methods of birth control, when they are being sterilised. This robs woman of their freedom to make informed choice and lead a healthy and dignified life.

Though sterilisation is a safer and easier option for men, but there is a stigma around vasectomy that it makes them impotent and female sterilisation remains the most used method. People are not even informed of the other temporary contraceptive choices and there are a high number of complaints about the contraceptives not being available.

Sterilisation should not be looked at as a population control measure. The aim of family-planning programme is to enable people to make informed choices and to provide people with safe and effective methods for it.

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