Hysterectomies in Arsikere taluk: what happened to the inquiry?

February 15, 2016 08:23 am | Updated October 18, 2016 02:56 pm IST - Hassan: Tirumalapura, Holalkere (Chitradurga district):

The Karnataka Women Commission’s inquiry ordered into hysterectomies conducted upon women from Gollarahattis in Arsikere taluk was ordered in February 2015. Shockingly, forget completion of the inquiry, it has not yet begun.

The inquiry was ordered on February 24, 2015, with a direction to complete the inquiry within a month. The inquiry has not met even once forget visiting the villages for inquiry.

The commission ordered the inquiry following media reports on women of Gollarahattis being subjected to undergo harsh traditional customs during menstruation, which prompted them to go for hysterectomy. The women are made to stay put outside the villages during the menstruation. A survey conducted by the Women and Child Development Department with the help of anganwadi workers found that as many as 288 women in 36 Gollarahattis had undergone hysterectomy in the recent years.

A couple of doctors in Arasikere and nearby places had allegedly conducted hysterectomy, without following set procedures, even women as young as 23 to 30 years old. The commission constituted the committee involving the then member of the commission Ms. Sharada, District Health Officer, social activist Rupa Hassan and Deputy Director of Women and Child Development.

According to sources in the Health and Women and Child Development Departments, the committee did not even meet once in the last one year. Dr. R.Venkatesh, District Health Officer, on Thursday, told The Hindu that he was not aware of the inquiry committee. “We have conducted a survey regarding how many people have undergone hysterectomy. We can share the statistics. I am not aware of the inquiry,” he said.

When The Hindu contacted Manjula Manasa, Chairperson of Women Commission, she said, “The inquiry committee could not continue because of many technical reasons. The officers, who were working as DHO and DD of Women and Child Development, when the inquiry was ordered, were either retired or transferred to new posts. Our member also left the commission. Moreover, in the same time, the Department of Health and Family Welfare had also ordered a probe into the similar issue”.

However, Ms. Manasa said, the commission would continue with its decision to have a probe into the issue. “In fact, we have written to the Health Department to share information regarding their inquiry into the issue. So far we have not received a reply. Now I am thinking of a fresh panel to conduct the inquiry and bring out factors that caused many women lose their uterus at young age”, she added.

Hysterectomies

Prabhamani, an anganwadi worker at M.A. Hatti, a village where the Golla community carry out this age-old custom, says that many women tend to undergo hysterectomies to “free” themselves of the custom. She says, on an average, around three women every month undergo hysterectomy in the village. She also said that health of the mother post-childbirth suffers a great deal due to this practice.

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