India comes in the top three sugar-producing countries in the world, with Maharastra being one of the states that contribute to it the most. But is it all good for the farmers and daily wage laborers who work hard enough to push India to the top?
As per an investigative report by TheHinduBusinessLine , women in the Beed district of Maharashtra have to go through hysterectomy only so they could get work because the cane-cutting contractors are unwilling to hire women who menstruate.
“We have a target to complete in a limited timeframe and hence we don’t want women who would have periods during cane cutting,” said Dada Patil, a contractor.
“The mukadam (contractor) is keen to have women without wombs in his group of cane cutters,” says Satyabhama, a cane-cutter.“After a hysterectomy, there is no chance of menstrual periods. So, there is no question of taking a break during cane cutting. We cannot afford to lose even a rupee.”
Every year men and women migrate to the sugar belt of western Maharashtra during the sugar cane cutting season, the drought is bad and the number of migrants just make it worse. The business for the contractors and the cane cutting workers is seasonal, hence for them, this is the only time of the year when they can earn.
Bandu Ugale, Satyabhama’s husband and a cane cutter himself, explained the reason behind such practice and as to why women agree to get it done. “A couple gets about ₹250 after cutting a tonne of sugarcane. In a day, we cut about 3-4 tonnes of cane and in an entire season of 4-5 months a couple cuts about 300 tonnes of sugarcane. What we earn during the season is our yearly income as we don’t get any work after we come back from cane cutting,” says Ugale.
“We can’t afford to take a break even for a day. We have to work even if we have health problems. There is no rest and women having periods is an additional problem,” he mentioned.
Women in the district also mentioned that the contractors pay for their surgeries and eventually the money is cut down from their wages.
Septuagenarian Vilabai, an old woman, talking to the line says, “Cane cutters have to live in cane fields or near sugar mills in a tent. There are no bathrooms and toilets. It becomes even more difficult for a woman if she has periods in these conditions.”
It is sad and painful to know that women in India have to go through a procedure that’s painful, unwanted and forceful. Women as young as 25 years of age have gone through this procedure just so they could get work. The Indian feed requests the authorities to look into the matter and help improve the situation of these women. Everybody should have access to clean toilets and in those days of the month, every woman who can’t afford a sanitary towel should be given either free of cost or under subsidiary by the State/Central Government.
People have died because of this and many are suffering. These women have to go through operations so they could make some more money in the week when they have their periods because according to them it becomes nothing but a hindrance to their survival. Some women even get side effects of the procedure like weight gain and hormonal imbalance, some go in debt as the procedure is expensive. This is hurtful and extremely wrong because mensuration is natural, mensurating is normal and doing anything to stop or alter it is nothing but abuse.