Why is family planning always a woman’s burden?

Published - November 13, 2014 12:51 pm IST - Bengaluru:

While the faulty sterilisation surgeries costing the lives of 11 women in Chhattisgarh, has grabbed national headlines, it turns out that there is a clear gender bias towards the procedure. Males hardly ever opt for it.

In Karnataka, more than 99 per cent of those who underwent sterilisation during 2013-2014 were women, while men accounted for a miniscule 0.44 per cent. This is not only in keeping with the national trend, but it has been prevailing over the years.

The fact that men get nearly double the incentive for undergoing the surgery has not worked as an incentive for them. Women get Rs. 600 (BPL category) and Rs. 250 (for APL category) for sterilisation, while men get Rs. 1,100 in any category.

According to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, male participation in family planning (permanent method or no-scalpel vasectomy- NSV) on an average is as low as 0.617 p.c. Only four districts in the State have recorded around 100 vasectomies in 2013-2014.

According to State NSV Trainer Prakash Reddy, the procedure is safe and has practically no side-effects or complications. “Yet, the trend has worsened over the years. From 0.85 per cent in 2012-2013, the number of NSVs has come down to 0.44 per cent in 2013-2014,” he said. Dr. Reddy, who used to train at least 15 doctors a month on the procedure till last year, has stopped the training because “it is of no use”.

He said there is a false impression that NSV can lead to impotency and loss of strength.

N. Sundari, professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in M.S. Ramaiah Medical College and Hospital, said: “It is a nearly painless procedure for men, who can just walk in and walk out. Their reluctance is not understandable. On the contrary, women have to undergo the procedure under anaesthesia.”

NSV was mooted by the Union government to ensure men also share the responsibility of population control.

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