In India, the average age of women having a hysterectomy is just 34. Many are a lot younger. Thousands of women are being tricked into expensive and unnecessary operations to remove their wombs by unscrupulous private doctors. As well as leaving their families burdened with heavy debt, the operations push the women into early menopause, often leaving them weak and unable to work.
In the sugar growing region of Beed, one in three women have had their wombs removed. Many of them, like Prabarvati, went to the doctor with period pain, backaches or bladder infections and were told they had cancer and the only solution was an urgent hysterectomy. She was just 26 when she had the operation. Years later, she suffers from crippling pain and appears decades older. Her daughter had to stop going to school and start working the cane plantations to help the family survive
Other women were pushed into having the operation by cane cutting contractors, who are reluctant to hire women who menstruate. There is a belief that women who haven’t had the operation are less productive.
But there are those trying to stop the hysterectomies. Manisha Tokle has spent the last six years denouncing the system and educating women about their bodies.
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