Why many women in Maharashtra's Beed district have no wombs -Radheshyam Jadhav

-The Hindu Business Line

Cane-cutting contractors are unwilling to hire women who menstruate, so hysterectomies have become the norm

“You will hardly find women with wombs in these villages. These are villages of womb-less women,” says Manda Ugale, gloom in her eyes. Sitting in her tiny house in Hajipur village, in the drought-affected Beed district of Maharashtra’s Marathwada region, she struggles to talk about the painful topic.

Women in Vanjarwadi, where 50 per cent of the women have had hysterectomies, say that it is the “norm” in villages to remove the uterus after having two or three children.

The majority of these women are cane cutters and migrate to the sugar belt of western Maharashtra during the cane cutting season; with the drought intensifying, the number of migrants multiplies. “The mukadam (contractor) is keen to have women without wombs in his group of cane cutters,” says Satyabhama, another cane-cutter.

Lakhs of men and women from the region migrate to work as cane cutters between October and March. Contractors draw up contracts with the husband and wife counted as one unit. Cane cutting is a rigorous process and if the husband or wife takes a break for a day, the couple has to pay a fine of ?500 per day to the contractor for every break.

‘Periods hinder work’

Menstrual periods hinder work and attract fines. The answer, in Beed, is to go in for a hysterectomy so the women no longer have them.

“After a hysterectomy, there is no chance of menstrual periods. So, there is no question of taking a break during cane cutting. We cannot afford to lose even a rupee,” says SatyaBhama. Contractors say that during menstrual periods, women want a break for a day or two and work is halted.

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The Hindu Business Line, 9 April, 2019, https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/why-half-the-women-in-maharashtras-beed-district-have-no-wombs/article26773974.ece

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