CHILDBIRTH RATE has declined in Naxalite-affected villages of South Bastar. This is more pronounced in relief camps where villagers have taken shelter. Though more than 52,000 tribal men and women are staying in these camps for the past 14 months, no pregnancy has been reported, except for those who came to the camps carrying child.
Obviously, they get no room for privacy in the relief camps. Moreover, due to Naxalite attacks they live in fear and trepidation.
According to NGOs working in Naxalite-affected areas of South Bastar, tribals living under constant threat of Naxalites have undergone serious psychosomatic changes which may have affected their sexual behaviour.
Those sheltered in relief camps are living in almost open places, having no privacy round the clock. According to medical officers and gynaecologists, it is a fact that people lose sexual desire under adverse circumstances.
Therefore, the birth rate decline is a natural outcome of prevailing circumstances, and the fear-struck villagers will take a long time to recover even after the situation returns to normal, they add.
According to South Bastar Health Department records, the average birth rate in March-April 2005 was 30.9 per thousand, in March-April 2006 it was 28.4 per thousand, and during first six months till September 2006 it declined to 26.8 per thousand. Authorities and doctors declined to be quoted.
“How is it possible for a couple to think of procreation when everyone is living under the terror of Naxalites?” asks Budhram Joga of Bhairamgarh. This speaks volumes about the situation in 20 relief camps in Konta and Bijapur areas. The villagers live in open camps facing day-to-day problems, Joga adds.
The block-wise birth records shows that the birth rate has declined nominally in areas not affected by Naxalites. It has declined alarmingly in the Naxalite-dominated localities. Senior Congress leader and former Congress MP M R Sodhi has expressed concerns over the trend.