surgery

Missing Wombs: Surgery Scam Traps Indians in Debt Bondage

0
Debt Bondage

Dharmendra Meena and his wife Vaijanti had a “beautiful and carefree” first year of marriage.

But when Vaijanti developed an infection after giving birth, everything changed. Her doctor told her she’d need a “life-saving” hysterectomy – the removal of her uterus and ovaries – or risk dying.

The couple took a loan of 100,000 rupees ($1,400) to cover the operation, only to find out later that they were targeted by unscrupulous doctors and that she never needed the hysterectomy. The pair are still paying off the loan, with Dharmendra forced to work on the farm of the money lender.

They’re aren’t alone — it’s estimated hundreds of young Indian women have been targeted by doctors who prescribe unnecessary surgery for minor health conditions.

Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:

“The interest on the loan is rising every month,” said Dharmendra, sitting in a sparse hut next to his wife in Taroli, a village in the state of Rajasthan.

“We don’t sleep any more. We fear the money lender,” he said before Vaijanti listed their losses – the wedding jewellery they sold, her fertility, his freedom and their hopes for the future.

Interviews with 38 women who said they were struggling financially post-surgery uncovered 10 cases of debt bondage, with families selling jewellery, livestock and land to survive.

In most cases, their husbands or sons had no choice but to toil for the money lender, who used the debt as leverage to compel them to work without any contract, rights or recourse.

The families reported the surgery costing between 30,000 and 100,000 rupees, but many ended up paying more for post-procedure problems. With many women unable to return to work, families’ incomes were halved, increasing their dependence on loans.

“This has to be recognised as a cause of indebtedness and bonded labour,” added Bharath Bhushan, founder of Centre for Action Research and People’s Development (CARPED).

“This (a hysterectomy) is a big expense for poor families, and it leads to loss of wages as the women are unable to work post-surgery,” Bhushan said. “They have lost their health, and livelihood. This is crazy … this is war on a woman’s body.”

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
avatar
500