A disturbing news report from Beed, Maharashtra reveal that an overwhelming number of women in the district have no uteruses. These women are labourers, mostly cane-cutters, who have undergone hysterectomies for a heartbreaking reason – for fear of losing out on job opportunities. The report published in Business Line reveals that the contractors do not prefer the female cane-cutting labourers because they menstruate. So a lot of young women undergo hysterectomies (surgical removal of the uterus) so that they are not hindered by their periods. Villages in the district have been turned “womb-less” as women are forced to choose between subsistence and health.
According to the report, women in Vanjarwadi village of Beed it has become a norm to undergo hysterectomy for work. Fifty percent of the women in the district does not have a womb. After giving birth to two or three children, they voluntarily remove the uterus to find work. Maharashtra's Beed Woman Police to Undergo Sex-Change Surgery.
The report states how many of these women migrate to the sugar belt of Maharashtra for the cane-cutting season. With the increase in droughts, the number of migrants pouring into the region has also increased.
The women told Business Line that the mukadam or the contractor insists on hiring women without wombs in his group of cane cutters. The reason is that periods can become a “hindrance”, keeping women off work for a few days. The contracts are drawn in such a way that taking breaks can invite a hefty fine of Rs 500 per day.
The contractors usually hire couples who jointly undertake the contract. For most of these labourers, work doesn’t come easily for the rest of the year. So missing even a day’s work can cost them dearly.
The report also states that the contractor themselves pay for the hysterectomies, eventually recovering the cost of surgery from their wages.
Contractors justify themselves, saying that cane-cutting has to be completed in a limited timeframe. They also say that the hysterectomies are not forced upon the women and they willingly undergo the procedure. Endometriosis Symptoms, Causes and Early Signs.
Even if the procedure is conducted consensually, the female labourers are not left with a lot of choices, given that they need the work for subsistence.
Accounts of female cane-cutters reveal the ordeal they have to undergo to find work. Many of them work in inhospitable conditions, sexually exploited by the contractors and their own husbands. Many of the work sites don’t have bathrooms where women can clean themselves during the periods; another reason why hysterectomy makes a lot of sense for the labourers.
What's a Hysterectomy?
The surgical removal of the uterus for medical purposes is known as a hysterectomy. It is recommended as a treatment method for problems such as fibroids, cancers, prolapse, endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain.
Either the entire uterus is removed in a total hysterectomy. In a supracervical hysterectomy, the womb is removed but the cervix is kept intact. In a radical hysterectomy, the uterus, cervix and the tissues on the sides of the organ are also removed.
Living Without a Uterus
The primary function of the womb is to hold the foetus from conception to birth. So after childbirth, the uterus is considered pretty much useless. Many healthcare professionals also unethically encourage women to undergo hysterectomy for minor gynaecological reasons.
But the truth is that the uterus also has other gynaecological functions. Women suffer from mood swings, hot flashes, cardiac problems, bladder problems and sexual dysfunction following a hysterectomy. Mental issues such as depression, low self-esteem and anxiety also become common after removal of the uterus.
While it makes sense to undergo hysterectomy for medical reasons such as fibroids or uterine cancer, to have a healthy woman part with her womb points towards a rather troublesome trend.