In a serious breach of medical ethics, doctors and private hospitals in Karnataka, particularly in Kalaburagi district, have been exploiting poor and illiterate women by conducting unwarranted hysterectomies.
A survey conducted in July 2015 by members of the Karnataka Janaarogya Chaluvali (KJC, Karnataka People’s Health Movement), a public health rights movement based in Karnataka, found 20 cases of hysterectomies performed on women under 40 in Belamogi tanda, a remarkably high number considering that there are only 87 families in the hamlet. A pattern emerged in the KJC’s survey undertaken in 38 tandas coming under the jurisdiction of 19 panchayats spread across four taluks—Kalaburagi, Chincholi, Aland and Afzalpur—in the district. An abnormally high number of hysterectomies among young women were recorded in all these Lambani hamlets—707 in all. Of these women, 355 were under 35 when they had the operation.
The KJC had done a similar survey in a village near Birur in Chikkamagaluru district in 2013. But its findings in Kalaburagi showed that the problem was on a large scale in this district and affected thousands of women. Teena Xavier, an activist of the KJC who lives in Kadaganchi village, around 25 km away from Kalaburagi, was the first to suspect that something was amiss. “In the villages where I work in Aland taluk, I heard about the enormous number of hysterectomies,” she said.