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Home > Women’s Rights > Target - Driven Sterilization Harming Women in India - HRW statement

Target - Driven Sterilization Harming Women in India - HRW statement

8 August 2012

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India: Target-Driven Sterilization Harming Women
Reproductive Rights Integral to Contraceptive Services

July 12, 2012

Health workers who miss sterilization targets because they give proper counseling and accurate information about contraception risk losing their jobs in many parts of the country. The Indian government should work with civil society to ensure that mechanisms to monitor progress in contraceptive use emphasize quality and respect for reproductive rights.
Aruna Kashyap, women’s rights researcher

(New Delhi) – India should eliminate coercive female sterilization practices as it implements plans for the expanded contraceptive services it announced at an international conference in London, Human Rights Watch and two reproductive health rights networks, the Coalition Against Two Child Norm and Coercive Population Policiesand CommonHealth Coalition for Maternal-Neonatal Health and Safe Abortions, said today.

The Indian government announced on July 11, 2012, at the London Summit for Family Planning that it has brought about “a paradigm shift” in its approach and will emphasize promotion and provision of contraceptives for birth spacing. The Indian government announced that its new strategy focuses on “making contraceptives available at the doorstep through 860,000 community health workers,” providing services for inserting intrauterine devices (IUDs) on fixed days in public health facilities, and improving post-natal services for IUDs, especially in those public health facilities that have large numbers of women coming to give birth. But the ongoing focus of the Indian central and state governments on achieving numerical targets for use of contraception, especially female sterilization, has contributed to a coercive environment for several decades, and should not be replicated going forward.

Unless India’s approach to contraception is revised, community health workers may come under increased pressure to meet contraceptive targets, the rights groups said. The government’s plans should ensure that all community health and nutrition workers give women adequate information about HIV prevention, sterilization, and other contraceptive choices.

Two years after the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, India announced that it would take a “target-free” approach to family planning. Since then, the Indian government has stopped setting centralized targets. But in practice, state-level authorities and district health officials assign targets for health workers for every contraceptive method, including female sterilization.

In much of the country, authorities aggressively pursue targets, especially for female sterilization, by threatening health workers with salary cuts or dismissals. As a result, some health workers pressure women to undergo sterilization without providing sufficient information, either about possible complications, its irreversibility, or safer sex practices after the procedure.

“Health workers who miss sterilization targets because they give proper counseling and accurate information about contraception risk losing their jobs in many parts of the country,” said Aruna Kashyap, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Indian government should work with civil society to ensure that mechanisms to monitor progress in contraceptive use emphasize quality and respect for reproductive rights.”

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FULL TEXT AT: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/12/india-target-driven-sterilization-harming-women