In search of permanent contraceptive solutions, women in India as young as 20 are voluntarily undergoing sterilization — a legacy both of India’s earlier forced family planning programs, and the social stigma around men receiving vasectomies. In 2014-15, more than 4 million women were permanently sterilized, while only about 90,000 men had undergone vasectomies. “We believe that men lose their strength by having it done,” a woman named Chitra told The Guardian outside a Madurai clinic.
Many of the women who attend the clinics for sterilization are young. “They get married around 18. Within two years they are giving birth to their second babies. At the age of 20, 21, they come for sterilization,” said B Ashifa, a family planning program officer.
Although condoms, the pill and copper coils are all free in government clinics, many women choose sterilization because temporary alternatives are seen as taboo, carrying implications of promiscuity. There is also a financial incentive for undergoing sterilization (500 rupees for women — $7.38 — and 1,300 rupees for men) but no payment for selecting any other method.
A draft government policy, however, may see initiatives shift their focus toward men, with the aim of both sexes sharing the responsibility of planning or spacing the birth of children, and stemming population growth. Dipak Joshi, of the Men’s Rights Association, told The Guardian it would be important to allay fears and quash myths about sterilization affecting masculinity, in order to change minds. “If we can address those problems, and assure them that the operation is safe, then men will come forward themselves,” he said.
Read the full story at The Guardian.