In November 2014, the death of 13 women after sterilisation operations in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, caught media attention worldwide. As a response to the outrageous and entirely preventable deaths of the young women, a statement was issued by the National Coalition against two child norm and coercive population policies condemning the deaths and calling for an urgent review of the family planning programme in India. An editorial raising concerns about India’s coercive family planning program and the urgent need to address quality of care was authored by CHSJ and published in the British Medical Journal. A public hearing was also organized in collaboration with PFI, FPAI, HRLN and OBR on 17th December 2014, in which organizations and communities from ten states of India were mobilized to raise their voice against poor population policy and lack of quality of care in family planning services. The hearing was attended by more than 200 participants including women and families of woman who died or suffered post sterilisation failures and complications. Health right advocates, civil society organisations, health and human rights advocates from Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and West Bengal, as well as representatives of the media, shared their views about the tragic deaths and narrated similar experiences from their own states. The testimonies from experts as well as women were presented and they were commented upon by the panel of eminent persons including prominent activists, media representatives and the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission. The testimonies were later formally submitted to the NHRC for further action. The hearing also dwelt upon the need to address contraceptive needs of youth as they are currently out of the purview of the FP programmes, as well as the need to meaningfully engage men in the same.
MEDIA COVERAGE ON PUBLIC HEARING