Please see a news item which could be of interest.

With best wishes and regards,
Rekha Pande

The stick Munda women fear most
- Ehtashamuddin Khan-

While the Internet  has invaded our lives and reduced global distances:
while we savour McDonald's burgers and Diet Coke as a quick meal; and even
as we talk of artificial insemination as an alternative to procreate, there
are people, not too far away, who are as ancient and disconnected from the
present world as to eat tubers and drink rice beer (locally called handiya)
and use a bare hard stick as a means of contraception.
Sounds difficult to believe, but it is true. The story is from the
newly-formed State of Jharkhan's capital, Ranchi.
Kabutri was married eight years ago and has five children. She narrates the
ways of family planning practiced in her village, after much instance.
Kabutri, 25 lives in Dungra Khas village to Khunti in Ranchi district.
According to her, a small hard stock is inserted in the vagina to turn the
fallopian tube upside down.  The stick is then taken out. The tube is left
like that till one want to conceive. It is turned back to its original
position once the man and his family decides for a baby.
The 'operation' is so painful that Kaburi starts to cry even as she recalls
it. However, she has no choice but to accept.  "This is our tradition and
every married woman has to follow it," she says.
Similar sentiments are echoed by other women, who are too shy to tell their
names. All feel the practice should be stopped, but are too bound by
tradition and too suppressed to protest. Asked why they haven't tried to
stop it, an elderly woman says: "We never thought of it. Every woman has to
go through this."
Gauri, a newly married woman, was able to spend just a week with her
husband, after which he left for Gujarat.  He will return after a year or
so.  Gauri also underwent the operation, but is ignorant about motherhood.
"I don't know how it happens," she says. She thinks this painful birth
control method is part of a marriage.
Not only is the operation painful and unhygienic, it causes several diseases
which the villagers are unable to identify, says gynecologist Reet Saran.
It also creates several complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Needless to say, every woman in this village gives birth at home with the
assistance of untrained midwives.  The absence of any hospital in the
vicinity, and the sole government dispensary sans any doctor, has made
matters worse. With little exposure to the developing medical world, the
methods used to abortion are as crude and harsh. Says Dr. Saran, "They use
bottles and sticks to kill the foetus. We normally get cases when things are
almost out of control."
The villagers belong to the Munda tribe and the village happens to be the
constituency of Karia Munda, who was one of the main contenders for the post
of Chief Minister in the newly-created State of Jharkhand. The village has
two small hamlets - Panda Tola, with around 50 houses. The villagers depend
upon the Kharif crop, sown once a year. The man, therefore, work as daily
labourers in nearby towns or quite often are forced to go to other States to
earn for their families and return once a year.  The contraceptive however,
remains on the women through the year.
Source:  Sunday Pioneer.  August 5, 2001.p.1

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