Pro­tect­ing women’s rights

Friday - - Editor’s Letter -

It’s ev­ery woman’s right to be a mother, just as it’s her right to man­age her fer­til­ity. But no woman should have to risk her life be­cause she doesn’t want an­other child. That is ex­actly what is hap­pen­ing across In­dia right now as the gov­ern­ment tries to con­trol its 1.3 bil­lion pop­u­la­tion from grow­ing.

Trag­i­cally, 15 women died at a ster­il­i­sa­tion camp in Chhattisgarh last Novem­ber af­ter a gov­ern­ment doc­tor car­ried out a stag­ger­ing 83 op­er­a­tions in five hours – in filthy the­atres us­ing the same scalpel for ev­ery 10 women be­fore chang­ing it. There was lit­tle time to change the bed linen be­tween op­er­a­tions ei­ther, so po­lice found it cov­ered in blood af­ter 60 women fell ill. The dead in­cluded a woman who had given birth a few days be­fore and a mother who left be­hind her baby, two sons and a dev­as­tated wid­ower who only agreed for her to have the surgery be­cause he feared he couldn’t feed an­other mouth. He tells us on page 20 how his wife died af­ter tak­ing post-op­er­a­tive an­tibi­otics that were made at a fac­tory where in­ves­ti­ga­tors have now found traces of rat poi­son.

Cam­paign­ers have la­belled th­ese en masse ster­il­i­sa­tions “massacre camps” and called on the gov­ern­ment to clean up the op­er­at­ing con­di­tions and en­sure women’s safety. Surely it’s the least they could do?

On a more pos­i­tive note we are cel­e­brat­ing women in this is­sue – ahead of In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day on March 8 – and show you how to age beau­ti­fully on page 54 and the women we ad­mire for their style and sub­stance on page 46. En­joy!

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