30 November 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
However, none of these institutions, which primarily work for adoption of children, did not want to go public with its name, fearing a backlash from human rights watchdogs. The groups that have sought the permission for hysterectomy–surgery to remove uterus, thereby stopping menstrual cycles and omitting the individual’s child–bearing capability – stated that besides taking care of the challenged girls’ hygiene, it could also go a long way in preventing pregnancy if they ever faced sexual violation.
One of the centres said they were not asking for a blanket permission. "Only those who are in a ‘vegetable stage’ could be considered," said the head of the institute. Another institute in south Mumbai said they took up the matter with the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) but the latter closed the chapter, tagging it a human rights issue.
"We had also approached the state but they asked for psychological examination of mentally challenged girls. These girls are severely mentally handicapped and, obviously, cannot decide if they needed a surgery," said a trustee of the centre.
The CWC, however,said they were yet to receive any written communication. "We have not received any such application. But the surgery would be a violation of human rights for these girls," said chairman of CWC Dr Shaila Mhatre, adding that it was more of a policy matter. "It is for the government to decide." Director of health services Dr D S Dakhure said so far, he had not been told about such a plea.
The debate on hysterectomy on mentally challenged girls is not new. The state’s earlier decision to back the surgery on the ground of "maintaining good hygiene" drew lots of criticism from activists as well as the medical community.