India sterilization camps under fire

April 2, 2012 at 8:41 PM

NEW DELHI, April 2 (UPI) -- Decrepit state-run camps operated by doctors under quotas are sterilizing Indian women under unhygienic conditions with disregard for life, court documents say.

A petition filed in the Supreme Court of India by human rights activist Devika Biswas is asking the federal and state government to respond to the charges.

The heavily criticized sterilization program was begun during the administration of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 1970s as a way to control population but scores of men and women were maimed or sickened, and many died as a result of procedures conducted by ill-trained doctors motivated by money working in unsanitary conditions, Bikyamasr.com reported Monday.

"Their target is 1 per cent population of the [village] block should be sterilized per year. I have evidence to show that sterilization operations are conducted under torchlight. The operations are conducted without even consent forms and the poor uneducated women are not even informed about other contraception choices which are available," Biswas said.

Biswas alleged the procedures aren't always effective, Bikyamasr.com reported.

"There is the case of 40-year-old Jitni Devi from Araria district in Bihar. She works as a laborer and has six children. She underwent sterilization last year and yet she is three months pregnant. Her eldest daughter is already a mother and now she is the joke of her community as a grandmother who got pregnant yet again," Biswas said, adding that three criminal complaints had already been filed with the Bihar police authority against failed sterilizations.

The Supreme Court has given the state government and federal governments eight weeks to respond to Biswas' petition.

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