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Why birth control is a woman’s burden in India

9 22 114

By Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi

When Ranjani Sharma told her husband that she was considering sterilisation, he initially tried to dissuade her.

"He said it may impact your health adversely," the 27-year-old mother-of-three told me on the phone from her home on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Lucknow.

But, Ms Sharma said she was fed up. The couple had decided they didn't want any more children and had been using condoms to avoid pregnancy. But it was not a "foolproof method" and when she conceived - twice - she took over-the-counter abortion pills.

"I had heavy bleeding, my head would spin, I had blackouts and I was listless and tired all the time. So I told him that sterilisation would be better than taking these blighted pills," she said.

The couple considered whether it was her husband who should instead get the procedure done.

"But I told him no," Ms Sharma said. "He's the family breadwinner and sterilisation will make him weak, he won't be able to do heavy lifting."

Dr S Shantha Kumari, president of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India, says it's "myths and misconceptions" like these that male sterilisation or vasectomy will impact virility is what prevents men from participating in family planning programmes, leaving the burden of contraception entirely to women.

"India's family planning campaigns, run by the government and non-governmental organisations, are also completely focussed on women. I believe it should be the responsibility of both........


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