February 25, 2024

Why does India still have “sterilization camps”?

Hi there,

You may recall that in July last year, Melinda Gates, one of the world’s richest women, and the British government, organised a family planning summit in London. Rich nations and NGOs pledged US$2.6 billion to meet the unmet need for contraception in the developing world.

At the meeting, India’s representatives swore that there would be a “paradigm shift” in their family planning programs. Somehow the word doesn’t seem to have reached West Bengal, as you can read in the story below.

Early last month more than a hundred women were processed at a “sterilization camp” at the Manikchak Rural Hospital by two doctors. All the guidelines for this kind of event were broken. After the operation, the women, still under the effects of anaesthesia, were dumped in an open field without sanitation. There were no tents. According to the local media, “such frenzied sterilisation camps are routine”.

India no longer has centralised family planning quotas, but in practice state and district officials set targets, leading to disgraces like this.

As far as I can remember, no one ever mentioned “sterilization camps” at the London summit which was applauded so enthusiastically in the world media. It would be interesting to see if some of this $2.6 billion is flowing into the pockets of the doctors who treated these women like animals in the hinterland of India.


Michael Cook
A disgrace in West Bengal