In Maharastra's Beed district, the female cane-cutters are being forced to undergo hysterectomy, an operation to remove a woman's uterus. The reason is that women are fined for taking a break during working hours. For these women, getting rid of the probability of periods altogether reduces the risk of being fined and getting rejected by contractors. "You will hardly find women with wombs in these villages. These are villages of womb-less women," said Manda Ugale, cane-cutter in the district, to The Hindu.
In a news report by The Hindu, it was revealed that 50% of the women in Vanjarwadi have had a hysterectomy because cane-cutter contractors aren't willing to hire women who have their periods. And so the women in this area have begun to get their uterus removed after having two to three children, in order to get a job.
What happens if they take a break? They have to pay the contractor Rs 500 fine for every break, making periods an unbearable nuisance for the female cane-cutters. From October to March, many women and their husbands migrate to the sugar belt of Maharashtra in order to get employment. While the contractors deny that a hysterectomy is demanded, many women claimed to have gotten an advance from the contractors for their surgery. “We have a target to complete in a limited timeframe and hence we don’t want women who would have periods during cane cutting,” said Dada Patil, a contractor who spoke to the newspaper. Another cane-cutter who has been in this profession since years confessed that women are often exposed to repeated sexual harassment and assault from the contractors and other men. Which is another reason why they avoid taking breaks - there are no bathrooms around and it makes them feel vulnerable.
"In the cane cutter community, menstrual periods are considered a problem and they think surgery is the only option to get rid of it. But this has a serious impact on the health of the women as they develop a hormonal imbalance, mental health issues, gain weight etc. We observed that even young girls at the age of 25 have undergone this surgery," said Achyut Borgaonkar of Tathapi, a Pune-based organisation that has studied this issue.
After the reports of these atrocities against women began to make rounds, the National Commission for Women issued a notice to Maharashtra’s chief secretary on Tuesday. The NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma told PTI, "The NCW may be apprised of any action taken in the matter for rehabilitation and mainstreaming of victims of the reported atrocities."
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