Supreme Court verdict on Sterilizations Camps

19/9/2016 523 Social Issues | Gender issues | View Recent Current Affairs

  •  The Supreme court had directed the Centre to do away with sterilisation camps within three years and strengthen the primary healthcare centre system.
  • The verdict was delivered when the court was dealing with a PIL which had brought to light the mismanagement of sterilisation camps.
  • A significant number of women have died due to the procedure during the past three years. Every death due to family planning surgery is one too many, and the State concerned must be called to account.

Analysis:

  • Mass sterilization camps are perverse products of the Centre’s population control campaigns driven by informal targets and incentives.
  • They infringe on the “reproductive freedoms of the most vulnerable groups of society whose economic and social conditions make them easy targets to coercion”.
  • The Centre has also failed in its duty to effectively monitor sterilization.
  • In order to improve sterilization camp in India, Civil society can effectively monitor sterilisation activity, if, as the court has directed, the list of approved doctors at the State and regional levels and members of quality assurance committees, and details of compensation claims are publicised on the Internet. And at the same time, compensation for losses, including deaths, should be raised substantially.
  • There are some questions also arises on the fairness of promoting permanent contraception, often for young women, who are unable to exercise their reproductive rights due to social and economic factors.
  • Last year, the Population Division of the UN took note of the extraordinary levels of sterilisations resorted to in India — 65 per cent of all contraceptive methods — and pointed to a potential mismatch between what is being offered and what women would like, which is to delay or space out births.
  • Tubectomies as a measure for population control also ignores the evidence from some developed States in India that women’s empowerment through education and employment brings down fertility, without sacrificing choice.
  • Ensuring the safety of women who undergo a tubectomy is of immediate concern.
  • This judgment reinforces the idea of the right to health being inseparable from the right to life.
  • Empowerment of women through full opportunity in education and employment, and access to all contraception options, should be central to national policies.
  • Offering financial incentives and subjecting women to permanent contraceptives is unacceptable.

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