A slaughterhouse for wombs: District Beed, Maharashtra

An investigation into the 4,542 hysterectomies in Beed over the last three years.

WrittenBy:Prateek Goyal
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It’s 8 pm. A thick silence envelopes the muddied streets of Sangam village in Beed, Maharashtra. In a tin-roof hut on the street’s corner, a low-light bulb dimly illuminates a woman crouched over a hearth, preparing chicken for her three children who are clustered on a cot in a corner. 

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This is 29-year-old Draupadi Dadate. Married at the age of 12, she’s cut sugarcane in sugar factories of Western Maharashtra and Karnataka alongside her husband ever since she turned 13. Three months ago, Draupadi had a hysterectomy in a private hospital in Majalgaon tehsil—an operation she underwent after suffering months of severe pain. The hysterectomy didn’t solve her problems though, it merely redistributed the pain to allow her to keep working within a vicious cycle.

All this is part of a series of struggles that Draupadi and her husband face in Maharashtra’s Beed district in Marathwada—a narrative shared by lakhs of women in a district where a shocking 4,542 women who cut sugarcane underwent hysterectomies in the last three years.

This is Draupadi’s story.

Last year, Draupadi experienced severe pain in her stomach followed by vaginal discharge. A doctor told her she had a node in her uterus which needed to be operated. Draupadi and her husband couldn’t afford an operation, so she was supplied with medicines. 

In September 2018, their mukadam, the contractor who gives work to sugarcane cutters, gave the couple an advance of ₹1 lakh to work in a sugar factory in Nipani, Karnataka, from October to April. “The advance is paid for couples, since they want a husband and wife to work as a  pair,” Draupadi explains. “But since I was suffering from severe health problems, I couldn’t go so my husband had to go to work alone. After a few days, mukadam came home and forced me to join my husband for work in Nipani.”

Draupadi complied. However, she was in such intense pain accompanied by vaginal discharge that she was unable to work. “But mukadam forced me to work as he paid money [to us] to work as a pair.” She says she was told to either work or return the advance. But not only was she physically unable to work, they’d used part of the advance for various purposes—education for their children, basic needs, doctor visits, paying off small loans. “We didn’t have money to return.” 

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Draupadi and her three children.

This is when things took a turn. “My husband had already harvested sugarcane worth ₹25,000 but he was not allowed to work. Mukadam held us hostage in a farm for two months.” According to her, the contractor said: “You don’t have any health complications, you are acting. Now you both will be released only when you return the advance.” She says, “Our repeated requests that we would return his money next year fell on deaf ears. Finally, on assurances from other couples who came from our village, he agreed to release us. They told him they will pay the money on our behalf.”

By this point, Draupadi was in intense pain. She visited Dr Nandkishor More in Vatsalya Hospital, Majalgaon. He suggested she get her uterus removed immediately. “We didn’t have money but the doctor said the operation is the only way out so we borrowed ₹25,000 and got operated. Now there is no pain in my stomach, but there is pain in my back, waist and legs. I’m not able to digest food or work properly.”

But Draupadi has to go back to work, regardless. Emotions skitter across her face as she gestures towards her daughter, Swati, who sits on the cot with her sons Rohan and Sunil. “The clothes she’s wearing have been borrowed from people in the village. This year, I will not be able to harvest sugarcane so I’ll work for daily wages in the village itself. I have to pay back the money I borrowed for the operation, and the money which fellow villagers gave the contractor for our release.”

Draupadi looks down at the chicken she is preparing. It holds a special significance to her; she’s making it for her son Sunil, who stays in a government hostel when she leaves to harvest sugarcane. The other two children accompany her. “I borrowed ₹400 to make this for my son since I’m seeing him after 7-8 months. I’ve told the person who lent me money that I will work for three days in his farm to repay the loan.” 

***

Poverty, exploitation, hysterectomies—this isn’t unique to Draupadi. It’s shared by women across Beed who harvest sugarcane.

The vicious cycle hit headlines in June, when health minister Eknath Shinde told the Maharashtra Legislative Council that in the last three years, 4,542 women in Beed who harvest sugarcane underwent surgeries to remove their uterus. While a committee has been set up to investigate, social workers in the area tell Newslaundry that the number for the last 25 years is likely to be several lakhs.

in 1994, Beed hit the headlines due to an outbreak of bubonic plague. Twenty-five years later, it’s back again for the wrong reasons. Beed is infamous for hysterectomies, and Newslaundry interacted with over 100 women who underwent these surgeries in the district. 

Their stories are eerily similar. All of them work as labourers harvesting sugarcane in sugar factories. Unhygienic and inhuman working conditions in the field lead them to develop genital infections, and they’re allowed no rest and are forced to pay their contractors if they do not work. Doctors and private hospitals tell them hysterectomies are the only solution. This is compounded by abject poverty, lack of awareness, and the fact that they married young and began this work at a young age.

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Women in Chondi. They begin cutting sugarcane from the age of 13-14.

Asit Pandey, the district magistrate of Beed, says about six lakh people in the district harvest sugarcane. “The women who harvest sugarcane live in unhygienic conditions and work day and night. This adversely impacts their health. People here are hesitant to take about problems related to their genitals or uterus so when these women visit doctors in this condition, no one knows what treatment they’re receiving, or what the doctor has suggested.”

Pandey says a “thorough investigation” will take place. “The number of cases among women working in sugar factories, who harvest sugarcane, is too high. At present we’re conducting a comprehensive survey among three lakh women and are trying to get into the skin of the reasons behind it [the surgeries].”

***

Beed lies in the region of Marathwada, which borders Karnataka and Telangana. Every year from October to May, vast quantities of people from Marathwada’s districts temporarily migrate to sugar factories West Maharashtra and Karnataka to harvest sugarcane. These people swarm from Osmanabad, Parbhani and Latur, as well as Vidarbha’s Yavatmal and Amravati—but fifty per cent of the total population that harvests sugarcane comes from Beed alone. 

It’s out of necessity: Beed’s frequent droughts leave landless people without many options beyond harvesting sugarcane to earn a living. The migrant labourers travel and work in pairs of husband and wife. Their children often accompany them, living in temporary huts on sugarcane farms. The children who stay behind live with older family members or in government hostels called vastishalas.

Each migrant couple is paid an uchal or advance of ₹50,000-1,00,000. Once they accept the uchal, the couple becomes bonded labourers for the contractors. If a labourer misses work for any reason, the labourer is charged a fine, or khada, which ranges from ₹500-₹1,000 per day.

Developing uterine infections is almost inevitable: the women work in unhygienic fields during menstruation and at the time of childbirth, many of the women don’t use sanitary pads. Skipping work when unwell saddles them with the burden of paying their contractors the khada. An inability to pay results in being held hostage by the contractor, or agreeing to work the following year for no wage.

Newslaundry visited Beed’s villages, including Chondi, Kari, Upli and Sangam, and found that on average, there are 100 women in each village who have had hysterectomies. Their ages range from 28 to 65. They all started harvesting sugarcane at a very young age and 90 per cent of them still do the same work.

Lata Adagale, 32, got married when she was 16 and has been harvesting sugarcane ever since. She has two daughters aged 10 and seven. Six years ago, Lata had a hysterectomy in Karad hospital, Parli.

“I used to suffer pain in my stomach after the birth of my second child,” she says. “When I visited the doctor, he told me there’s a node in the uterus. He said if the uterus is not removed, then I might get cancer. I was afraid and had the operation. It cost ₹50,000.”

Forty-five-year-old Kesar Munde doesn’t even remember when she got married, though she knows she was very young at the time. She’s been harvesting sugarcane for nearly 30 years. In 2009, the pain in her stomach began and she visited a private hospital in Ambejogai tehsil. 

“After the checkup, the doctor said there’s a node in the uterus. He said if I don’t get it operated, this might lead to cancer and I won’t survive. I was very afraid, so I immediately got my uterus removed.”

This planted fear of cancer threads all the women together. In Chondi village, 35-year-old Jijabai Adagale’s stomach pain began after the birth of her third child. Married at 12, she had her first daughter at the age of 14 and had three children by the time she was 17. Like the others, Jijabai commenced work harvesting sugarcane as soon as she got married.

“For one-and-a-half years, I had constant pain in the stomach,” she tells Newslaundry. “Finally I went to a private hospital in Majalgaon.” Her doctor also told her that skipping the hysterectomy would lead to cancer, so Jijabai complied, shelling out ₹25,000 for the operation. 

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Jijabai Adagale from Chondi.

She says, “The women working in the sugar factories are not allowed to rest despite pain in the uterus or during menstruation or even during childbirth. I gave birth to two of my children while working in the factory itself. Both times, I couldn’t work for 15 days so I had to pay ₹15,000 as khada to the contractor each time. After we receive uchal we have to work despite the problems we might be going through.”

Tulsiram Avhad, who has been working as a contractor for 20 years in Beed, claims contractors are pressured to charge khada.“We charge khada from everyone who takes leave, not just the women. Other labourer couples ask us to charge if a woman doesn’t work due to pregnancy or menstruation, otherwise, they will also not work or will go on leave.”

He’s backed up by Bandu Khandagle, a contractor from Majalgaon tehsil in Beed. “We don’t charge the fine at our own will; fellow labourers ask us to charge it.”

***

In Kari village in Beed, 45-year-old Godavari More lives in a house made of sun-dried bricks. She was married at the age of 15 and has been harvesting sugarcane for a living ever since. Godavari explains that it’s extremely difficult work, especially for women.

“You have to wake up at 4 am, cook food and then go to work. One pair harvests approximately two tonnes (2,000 kg) of sugarcane a day. On some days, we’re able to harvest only 1.5 tonnes. But we have to harvest at least one tonne at any cost, otherwise, the contractor abuses us and misbehaves with us.”

The couples go home at 7-8 pm. “Then we have to cook food ourselves. If a vehicle comes to carry the sugarcane away to the factories, we have to leave our food and load up the vehicle. Loading one vehicle requires at least 10 couples and three hours’ work. When that’s done, we return at 1 am, eat our food and go to sleep—and wake up again at 4 am. We’re working day and night.” 

Godavari says: “When I went there for the first time, I cried every day. We work at least 18-19 hours a day. It’s been 19 years since I started this work. It’s very difficult to work during menstruation but we have to, otherwise, the contractor charges a fine. Fifteen or 20 years ago the fine was ₹200 per day; today, it’s ₹1,000 per day. We can’t afford it due to our poor financial conditions. So whether we’re menstruating or pregnant, we work.”

Godavari had a hysterectomy in 2006. “Before the operation, I suffered pain in my stomach. Bleeding did not stop after menstruation; it would continue for 15 days.” She was weak, but could not stop working. Finally, she paid ₹30,000 and had the operation. Like many other women, she now has pain in her back, neck and legs.

Godavari says the labourers are at the mercy of the contractors who exploit them. “This year, we took an advance of ₹1 lakh to work from October 2018 to May 2019. Despite working day and night for six months and harvesting two tonnes of sugarcane a day, at the rate of ₹227 per tonne, the contractor says we only harvested sugarcane worth ₹50,000. He wants us to return the rest of the advance. Now we have to work for him next year without any wages for six months.”

When asked if the labourers can refuse to do so, tears fill Godavari’s eyes. “We are poor people. How can we oppose anyone?”

***

Mukadam—the word itself spells fear for workers harvesting sugarcane.

Every year, owners of sugar factories sign contracts with these mukadams to get their sugarcane harvested. The contracts direct the mukadams to provide workers, for which they’ll receive a commission of 25-30 per cent.

Most contractors are affiliated with political parties and sugar factory unions. They bring labourers in pairs from Beed and other districts of Maharashtra, “booking” them by paying them advances. The advance ensures the workers are trapped. 

Newslaundry met dozens of labourers who have stories about the ruthlessness of their contractors. One story is that of Parvati Adagale, a 38-year-old resident of Chondi village. Parvati is visibly uncomfortable when this reporter asks her for details, but finally agrees to speak.

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Parvati Adagale and her daughter.

“Eight years ago, I went to cut sugarcane with my husband in Shakti Sagar factory in Karnataka. The contractor gave us ₹20,000 as advance. My seven-year-old son was with us. Twenty days before our work finished, he drowned in a well in the sugar farm and died.”

Parvati and her husband were devastated but had to continue working for 18-20 days till the time period was finished. “When we were done, the contractor said we had done work worth ₹10,000 only and made us return the remaining ₹10,000—he said he wouldn’t release us until we returned the money. We were already mourning our child’s death and the contractor was creating trouble for us.” 

Parvati and her husband weren’t able to pay the contractor and so, she says, they were held hostage along with eight or nine other couples. “We were kept in a farm guarded by his men for four days. There was a shortage of food and water. All the couples, including us, borrowed money from other contractors to get ourselves released. Next year we have to work for the contractor who gave us money.”

Gavalan Bai, 62, has her own horror story about her mukadam. “Five years ago, my husband and I went to Gulbarga (Karnataka) to cut sugarcane. My husband suffered a major health problem. We requested the contractor to let him go but he didn’t listen to us. He kept saying if my husband goes, he would be one pair short. When we finally returned home, my husband died two months later.” She breaks down.

Newslaundry contacted Parmeshwar Adagale, an activist associated with Maanvi Hak Abhiyan, a social organisation based in Marathwada. Adagale says contractors take advantage of the poverty of the workers hired to harvest sugarcane. “They consider them as their slaves once the advance is paid. They always pay less, without considering how much sugarcane a labourer has harvested.”

Adagale explains that workers from Beed and Marathwada are landless and poor. Once they receive their advances, they spend it on family expenses like education, weddings, rations and medicines. “The contractors make them harvest sugarcane day and night. These poor people harvest 2,000 kg of sugarcane in one day, load sugarcane in trucks, work for 19-20 hours per day (on an average). If they do not have the money to return to the contractor, he holds them hostage. To get themselves free, they have to borrow money from their relatives or some other contractor. Next year, they have to work for the same contractor from whom they borrowed money. The contractors keep them trapped in a cobweb of debt and slavery.”

Contractor Bandu Khandagle tells Newslaundry contractors don’t hold labourers hostage. “The vehicle owners do it. If workers don’t work after taking the advance, only then we hold them hostage. And not always, only sometimes.”

The contractors Newslaundry spoke to also denied that they recommend women get hysterectomies. One of the contractors, Tulsiram Awhad, said, “We provide employment to all the women. This is a baseless allegation. No contractor ever asks any woman to get their uterus removed; they get it removed as per their own will. They do this so as to prevent diseases related to the uterus.”

Newslaundry asked over 100 of these women if they were pressured by contractors to get the operation. They all said no, but explained that they were under pressure to keep working, whether they’re unwell, in pain, menstruating, pregnant or if they’ve just given birth. Nirguna Hazare, 45, says: “The contractors victimise us and our husbands but never ask us to get our uterus removed. When we suffer stomach aches or bleeding, we visit the doctor and they suggest we get our uterus removed.”

It’s easy to link the hysterectomy epidemic here to the inhumane and unhygienic working conditions. While a handful of cases can be written off as a coincidence, that can’t be done for 4,542 cases.

District collector Asit Pandey is also aware of this aspect. He says, “One of the major aspects of this problem is the contractor. It is alleged that the contractors force women to get their uterus removed. Though nothing such has come out in the investigation so far. We will look into this aspect in depth.”

***

All the women Newslaundry spoke to who underwent hysterectomies said they were left with pain in the back, waist, neck and feet after the surgery. Ninety per cent of the women who had operations returned to harvest sugarcane. 

Notably, all the women who underwent hysterectomy in these villages are suffering pain in the back, waist, neck and foot and they all say that this started after operation only. Despite this, 90 per cent of the women still harvest sugarcane. 

Varsha Ichke, 26, is from Uppli village and works for the National Rural Health Mission. She says: “There are many reasons why women from rural areas on Beed suffer problems related to the uterus. Getting married young, harvesting sugarcane day and night, lifting heavy weights, open defecation, not being aware during menstruation … These women are easy targets for private hospitals who don’t give them proper treatment.”

According to Ichke: “Private hospitals often recommend hysterectomies even for some problems which can be treated with medicines. They do this to make money.” She says after the surgery, the women need to rest for three months, avoid heavy work, get their haemoglobin and blood pressure checked and eat nutritiously. “But due to poverty and work pressure, they’re not able to do that.” This could explain the lasting pain that many of these women endure after their operations.

Deepak Thorat, a social worker working in the field of health in Beed, also criticises the way these women are automatically told to get hysterectomies. “If a woman comes to a government hospital with a problem related to her uterus, first her blood is checked. The report comes in eight days. Only if the report indicates it, she’s told to get a hysterectomy. Also, the uterus of a woman over the age of 45 years is removed; younger women are usually recommended to try medication first.”

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Women in Chondi who have had hysterectomies.

Thorat says issues like bleeding and vaginal discharge can be cured using medicines. “If these women are given the right treatment, there’s no need to remove the uterus. But if a woman visits a private hospital, they look for opportunities to perform hysterectomies. Doctors scare the women and their families, saying these are symptoms of cancer or that they will die if they don’t get the surgery.”

He adds: “In the last 25-30 years, the fear of cancer or death is deeply rooted in the hearts of rural women because of private doctors.”

Most of the rural women this reporter met use cloth during menstruation, not sanitary napkins. Kamal Munde, 35, had a hysterectomy 12 years ago and doesn’t even understand the term “sanitary napkin”. When this reporter explains, she points out: “How are we going to buy pads when we’re fighting for a single penny? We use cloth during menstruation or bleeding.”

***

There are 120 private hospitals in Beed that have the infrastructure to perform hysterectomies. Newslaundry accessed a circular issued by the Beed collector in April that said private hospitals require the permission of the civil surgeon, who heads the district hospital, and medical superintendent before performing a hysterectomy. 

An official working at the Beed district hospital told Newslaundry: “Since the circular was issued, hysterectomies have come down by 50 per cent. In the last three months, 200 operations took place compared to the previous average of 125-130 operations per month. Now if a woman visits a private hospital complaining about uterine problems and is advised to get her uterus removed, a female doctor from a government hospital will examine her. Only then permission for a hysterectomy will be given or refused.”

Hospital officials told Newslaundry, on condition of anonymity, that since the circular was issued, they surveyed hysterectomy statistics in Beed from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. An official says: “According to the survey, 4,605 hysterectomies were recorded in the last three years—this is the figure given by the state health minister in the Legislative Council. However, the correct figure is 4,542 for the last three years. If you look at numbers for the last 25 years, it’s lakhs.” 

Newslaundry met Beed’s additional civil surgeon Dr Sukhdev Rathod to ask him about hysterectomies performed by private hospitals in Beed. Reiterating the new permissions required according to the April 2019 circular, he added, “Every month, private hospitals need to send a report to the civil surgeon on operations for uterus removal. Hospitals carrying out such operations will also have to put up a display board detailing the positives and negatives of hysterectomies.”

Dr Rathod couldn’t explain why women here go to private hospitals instead of government hospitals for uterine issues. He said, “Rural women take small diseases very seriously because of illiteracy. When they talk to each other about vaginal discharge, they jump to the conclusion that they need to get their uterus removed. It’s the responsibility of doctors in private hospitals to examine them thoroughly and only then operate. For issues that can be treated with medicines, there’s no need for operations.”

***

Out of the 120 private hospitals in Beed district, the 4,542 hysterectomies carried out over the last three years were performed in 113 of these hospitals. Of this, 1,705 operations were done by 10 hospitals alone.

Heading the list is Pratibha Nursing Home in Kaiz tehsil, where 277 hysterectomies were carried out in the last three years. This is followed by Tidke Hospital (196 hysterectomies), Shree Bhagwan Hospital (193), Gholve Hospital (186), Veer Hospital (179), Sri Kripalu Hospital (167), Ostwal Hospital (151), Dhoot Hospital (145), Karad (Parli) Hospital (110) and Yogeshwari Maternity Home (101).

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The 10 hospitals where 1,705 hysterectomies took place in the last three years.

Dr Madhav Sanap is the owner of Shree Bhagwan Hospital where 193 hysterectomies were carried out. Dr Sanap claims these operations occur across Maharashtra, and Beed is being singled out and “disgraced”.

He says, “According to official data, 4,500 women were operated on in 100 hospitals. This means in the last three years, 45 operations occurred in one hospital, which is 15 operations a year—about one operation a month. Is this too much? This is being done to disgrace doctors.” 

This logic doesn’t quite add up.

Dr Sanap says the health department should create awareness—which he says they’re not doing. “No one is talking about the preventive measures women should take during childbirth or menstruation. Secondly, if a woman has cancer due to a uterus-related disease, then the whole village is filled with fear. If any woman in any village is suffering from diseases related to the uterus, then it is on her whether she wants to get her uterus removed or not—otherwise, she will also suffer cancer. We recommend medications but if they don’t get any relief after taking medicines a couple of times, they visit other doctors and get hysterectomies.” 

When would a doctor recommend a hysterectomy? Dr Sanap says, “When there is vaginal discharge or pain in the lower part of the abdomen or when there is bleeding, then their whole family is worried. Their lifestyle gets disturbed. Both husband and wife are not able to work. They have to spend at least ₹1,000-1,500 rupees for a single visit to the doctor. Their problem increases and in this condition, an operation is the only way out.”

Dr Sanap says the new circular regulating hysterectomies has created issues for patients in dire need of the operation. “We have to send them to government hospitals where they have to wait their turn. If the patient is not attended to, they have to wait the next day too … So now, patients have started going to neighbouring district of Ahmednagar for operations.”

Dr Archana Dhoot of Dhoot Hospital, where 145 hysterectomies were carried out in the last three years, says her hospital carries out the operation only when there is “no other way” and the life of the patient is in danger, and when medicines give no relief. “The ban on hysterectomies is creating problems for patients. Doctors are also working under stress.” She says the post-operation pain described by many of the women has “no relation” with the hysterectomy itself.

Newslaundry reached out to Dr Trayambak Chatte of Pratibha Nursing Home, where the highest number of hysterectomies took place in the last three years but received no response.

It should be pointed out that government hospitals in Beed also perform hysterectomies. The sub-district hospital of Kaiz tehsil—which is where Pratibha Nursing Home is also located—recorded 284 hysterectomies from 2014 to 2019. Dr Ashok Thorat, civil surgeon of Beed District Hospital, says about 700 hysterectomies per year take place in Beed’s government and sub-district hospitals. “All these operations were done only when the patient was in dire need of it … Not a single operation was done baselessly.”

Collector Asit Pandey says he has received a complaint that private hospitals carry out hysterectomies even if they are not necessary. He says hysterectomies are being “aggressively promoted” and, therefore, “government intervention is necessary”.

Out of all the women who had hysterectomies whom Newslaundry spoke to, 70 per cent didn’t receive any documents or paperwork from their doctors. For example, 42-year-old Savitri Fartade, a resident of Kari village, had a hysterectomy 10 years ago under Dr Shrihari Lahane. He charged ₹15,000 and she was given no medical file or document. Similarly, 30-year-old Manisha Pradhan paid ₹50,000 for her hysterectomy two years before at Vatsalya Hospital in Majalgaon, and was issued no paperwork.

According to social worker Ashok Tangade, this is a clear indication of “foul play”. “The details of operation, sonography reports, the reason why the operation is done—many doctors in Beed don’t give their patients these documents. The figure of 4,542 was extracted from the registers of operation theatres. The actual figure is much higher. Hysterectomies have happened for over 20 years in Beed. There are 1,200 villages and each village has hundreds of cases. Now, you estimate the number.” 

***

Curiously, Newslaundry discovered that several doctors in Beed who carried out hysterectomies had criminal records.

Shree Bhagwan Hospital’s Dr Madhav Sanap was arrested in 2005 for carrying out sex determination and foeticide. His medical license was cancelled for five years and his hospital’s recognition was cancelled. In January 2012, he was sentenced to one year in prison, though he was released on bail. However, he didn’t mend his ways and despite the cancellation of the registration of his hospital and his licence he continued with his malpractices and in June 2012 was arrested again on the charge of female foeticide. However, his hospital is still up and running in full swing.

Similar arrests for sex determination and female foeticide took place at Sanap Hospital which is run by Dr Shri Hari Lahane and Dr Shivaji Sanap. Many women whom Newslaundry have got their uterus removed at Sanap hospital.

Beed’s civil surgeon Dr Ashok Thorat was arrested in December 2012 for carrying out an illegal abortion. At the time, he was a medical superintendent in Kaiz tehsil in Beed, and he sent a woman to get an abortion at a private nursing home which didn’t have the necessary permissions to perform one. Dr Thorat then reportedly carried out a “sting” of the private nursing home’s doctor—Dr Chandrakant Lamture—due to “personal enmity” between the two. Dr Lamture was then arrested.

Newslaundry accessed the charge sheet which contains all these details. Dr Thorat was arrested too for deliberately putting a woman’s life in danger, it says. The case was still in court but Dr Thorat was reinstated in 2014 in the sub-district hospital of Kaiz tehsil.

Activist Ashok Tangade, who has been studying hysterectomy statistics in Beed for the last five years, says, “Corrupt and greedy doctors are the main reason behind the high number of hysterectomies in Beed.”

***

When the issue of Beed’s hysterectomies was raised in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, a committee was set up to investigate the matter under the chairmanship of the principal secretary of the state health department.

Newslaundry spoke to Manisha Kayende, one of the committee members and a Shiv Sena leaders. Kayende says, “All the surgeries done in private hospitals to remove the uterus were done unnecessarily. Fear of cancer and death was used to incite the patients … It’s important that the labour ministry give sugarcane workers their due rights. Extensive reforms are required regarding the wages given to them. Basic amenities like toilets should be provided to them. Instructions have been given to the Sugar Commissionerate that sugarcane workers must not be exploited.”

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