Harmful sterilisation in West Bengal

a banned female sterilisation method is in use in the rural areas of West Bengal, Karnataka, Punjab and Gujarat. So concludes a study conducted by researchers from Canada-based McGill University. Its results, made public during a meet organised in New Delhi on December 4, 2003, are alarming, as the method is known to cause genetic mutation. Numerous studies point to its potential risks of cancer, birth defects and toxicity. In 1994, the World Health Organization had urged the global community to stop the trials of the method called quinacrine sterilisation (qs). The warning, however, was ignored by most, and qs is at present being used in more than 20 countries. In India, even a ban imposed by the Supreme Court (sc) in 1998 is openly flouted.

During the study, conducted in the Uluberia district of West Bengal, it was found that five of the 32 women examined underwent qs after the sc ban. One of them is now suffering from cancer of the cervix (mouth of the uterus). "The fate of the others could be the same because it may take 20 years for the cancer to develop after qs,' says Sanjib Mukherjee, who did the gynaecology examination of the women.

Without being informed about the adverse impacts, the women are made guinea pigs. No follow-up is conducted. Sterilisation is done by the village quacks, who rather than telling the women about the ban, just project the advantages of qs