Climate Crisis Pushes Indian Women Farmers To Opt For Uterus Removal

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News in Brief:
– Climate-induced droughts in Beed, Maharashtra, are driving impoverished women farmers to remove their uterus to sustain themselves as migrant labourers on sugarcane plantations.

In a distressing trend fueled by relentless droughts, impoverished women in Beed, Maharashtra, are turning to exploitative sugarcane work, resorting to hysterectomies to cope with the harsh conditions, according to research by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

Years of erratic monsoons and scorching heat have compelled families to migrate and become day labourers on sugar plantations. A shocking revelation from the research indicates that over half of Beed’s migrant women working on sugar estates have undergone hysterectomies, compared to less than a fifth among those who stayed in the district.

Desperation due to climate change

Contractors slashing wages for missed work push women to extreme measures, believing that having their wombs removed will prevent disruptions due to periods or pregnancy. Ritu Bharadwaj, a principal researcher with IIED, highlights that hysterectomies are symptomatic of economic distress exacerbated by the climate crisis, emphasising the broader, challenging-to-quantify impact of climate change on vulnerable communities.

hysterectomies

Rising temperatures and extreme weather patterns, products of climate change, are causing frequent crop failures, compelling subsistence farmers to migrate for employment. Beed faced a significant lack of rain once every five years in the 30 years leading to 2011, but this deficit doubled in the following decade, intensifying the push for migration.

Exploitation and health risks

Sugar mills prefer employing couples, with husbands engaged in cane cutting and wives handling cleaning and loading. The grueling work, offering meager compensation, prompts women to seek hysterectomies due to fear of income loss and lack of sanitary facilities. The research reveals alarming health issues, including back and joint pain, osteoporosis, pelvic discomfort, and mental health problems among those who undergo the procedure.

Efforts to curb hysterectomies, such as requiring permission from private hospitals, proved ineffective as women sought the procedure in adjacent districts. Bharadwaj argues that addressing the root cause, economic distress exacerbated by climate change is crucial to stemming the rising tide of unnecessary hysterectomies. As climate change continues to wreak havoc on vulnerable communities, urgent measures are needed to build resilience and provide sustainable alternatives for those affected.

Chinwendu Ohabughiro
Chinwendu Ohabughiro
Chinwendu Gift Ohabughiro has a background in English and Literary Studies from Imo State University. She brings a fresh perspective to the world of agriculture writing. When she's not penning compelling content, she's likely lost in the pages of a thrilling mystery or treating herself to the sinful delight of chocolate.

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