Hysterectomies in India

Grind for July 28th
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
– Winston Churchill

Time For Action

The Headline

India: Women are having hysterectomies to improve employment opportunities

The Grind

As reported by Al Jazeera, more than 4,500 young women living in India’s Beed district are believed to have undergone unnecessary hysterectomies over the past three years.

Some of the surgeries occurred after doctors tricked patients into believing they could develop cancer from menstrual cramps. Others decided to have surgery to improve employment opportunities.

The Details

Women in rural India are often made to believe that the uterus or “pishvi” is worthless after childbirth and that menstruation can disrupt work.

“I know several women who undergo hysterectomies to become employable by contractors or more productive in their fields,” says Usha Raosaheb, a health workers in Vajrantwadi village.

Due to a widespread lack of schooling, sugar cane cutting is one of the only options for women living in Beed. The work is grueling and requires significant upper body strength. Workers generally do not have access to bathrooms.

“Given the water shortage, work is scarce. We cannot afford to lose it over our female problems,” says Vrandavani Sandeep, who had her uterus removed at age 34.

The average cost of a hysterectomy in Beed is about $508. The average daily wage for a female sugar cane cutter is $3. The average cost for a pack of 12 sanitary pads is $1.45.

“It was better to invest in operation at once than keep spending over medicines,” says Lata Magar, who took pills to prevent menstrual cramps before she decided to have a hysterectomy.

According to locals, contractors are more likely to hire women who do not have a uterus.

“It was not an easy decision to make,” says Pushpa, who had a hysterectomy at age 28. “But my husband encouraged me to do it because the pain affected my work.”

The Takeaway

Menstruation is still a taboo subject in parts of India. In some areas, women are banned from entering temples or kitchens during menstruation and are not allowed to touch anyone.

Women without access to disposable hygiene products use cloth, which can cause infection.

“Taboos are being shattered through awareness programs,” says Usha, but “we still have a long way to go when it comes to basic hygiene, access to proper drinking water, and nutrition.”

In June, the Maharashtra legislative assembly formed a committee to look into the “menace of womb removal” in Beed following a complaint from the National Commission of Women.

The seven-person committee of doctors and activists will submit its report in August.

Some Like It Hot

The Headline

European heat wave continues to break record temperatures

The Grind

Several European countries recorded their highest-ever temperatures this week amid a months-long heatwave that continues to threaten the lives of humans and animals.

–Temperatures in the German town Geilenkirchen reached 104.9 Degrees F

— Temperatures in the Dutch city Eindhoven hit 102.7 Degrees F

— Temperatures in the Belgian town Kleine Brogel reached 102 Degrees F

The heatwave has ignited wildfires in Spain and Portugal and is threatening efforts to rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathedral after it was ravaged by a fire in April.

“What I fear is that the joints or the masonry, as they dry, lose their cohesion…and all of a sudden, the vault gives way,” says Chief Architect Philippe Villeneuve.

The Details

In the Netherlands, officials are spraying major bridges to prevent the metal from expanding in the heat.

In Belgium, beekeepers are worried the heat will prevent insects from leaving their hives. “If the situation continues, colonies of bees will die,” says Bruneau Etienne, President of Belgian’s beekeeping federation.

On Wednesday, nearly 600 people were trapped in 104 Degrees F heat when a Eurostar train broke down.

“I am one of hundreds of people on the fire-struck 10.56 train Brussels to London,” tweeted comedian Katy Brand. “We are being held in a tunnel. Babies are ill, people are fainting…This is very unsafe.”

In France, residents living in the Paris region are expecting temperatures to exceed 104 Degrees later this week. In June, France recorded its highest-ever temperature of 114.8 Degrees F.

Scientists blame the heatwave on global warming and have warned Europeans to expect hotter summers in the future.

Did you know… NASA invented baby food as we know it today.