A step forward for India
Sterilization of women has long been a part of India’s efforts at population control. States are rewarded for achieving targets, which are often dependent on “sterilization camps,” where many women are sterilized under unsanitary conditions, with inadequate or nonexistent medical care afterwards.
India’s Supreme Court has now ordered that all sterilization camps be closed within three years. It also urged much better compensation for botched procedures and directed that the central government be accountable for assuring that state governments follow proper protocols, including the gathering of data.
The Population Research Institute (PRI) points out that corruption is endemic in the program, because state governments set targets for number of sterilization and may reward the best-performing areas. Women are offered the equivalent of $21 to be sterilized, but are not warned of the dangers. The Court mandated that such warnings were to be given in the woman’s own language, even though there are at least 122 major languages spoken in India.
PRI says that although this is “a step in the right direction,” the central government “must eliminate the system of bribes and incentives that drive the program.” Until that happens, PRI says, “the abuses will continue.”