More women are being sterilised than men in Delhi, often without informed consent.
The number of tubectomy (female sterilisation) cases have gone up from 18,505 in 2009-10 to 25,228 in 2012-13. However, in the same period vasectomies (male sterilisation) have come down to 1,892 from 4,386, according to an RTI plea.
Experts are of the view that despite government’s population policy and their concerns about gender equality, the burden of birth control continues to rest with the women. “We’ve filed a case in the Supreme Court against several government sterilisation camps, which violates the National Population Policy.
These camps promote tubectomy, while vasectomy takes a back seat. In several cases, when women go to hospitals for delivery or abortion they are made to undergo tubectomy without informed consent,” said Sanjay Sharma, director, Health Rights Initiative, Human Rights Law Network.
According to doctors, the rise in the number of tubectomy cases reflects the attitude of society towards women. But they hasten to add that this might also reflect the growing awareness among women about birth control. “The gradual rise in the cases of tubectomy proves that women are taking over control of their fertility. They are becoming independent and better informed. It’s a woman who has to undergo pregnancy or abortion and face the related complications,” said Dr Ranjana Sharma, senior consultant, gynaecology & obstetrics, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.
“It is very difficult to convince men to go for vasectomy. It is perceived that after the procedure they would lose their sexual vigour or potency. Hence, they force their wives to go for tubectomy,” she added.
The procedure of sterilisation for women is more complicated than that for men, say doctors.
“Vasectomy is a safer option than tubectomy for permanent sterilisation. Vasectomy is done under sedation and local anaesthesia, it rarely needs general anaesthesia. Tubectomy is a more invasive procedure. It usually requires general anaesthesia and a laparoscope is inserted inside the abdomen. Its complication includes risk of anaesthesia, bowel and vessel injury. However, the overall risks and complication of tubectomy is less than 1%.
The risks of vasectomy are much lower (0.5%),” said Dr Kaberi Banerjee, senior consultant, gynaecology and infertility, Nova Speciality Surgery.
“Men may feel that this surgery will lead to sexual problems in men. This is, however, a myth and sexual dysfunction is not a complication of this procedure,” she added.
According to an NDMC health officer, awareness programmes about family planning and sterilisation are rare in the city. “Married couples should be counselled and educated about the outcome of sterilisation,” he said.