Mirchaiya Nursing Home, situated at the Mirchaiya marketplace of Siraha, in this recent picture. Mithilesh Yadav/Republica
SIRAHA, July 23: A famous nursing home in Siraha has drawn attention following the detention of Dr Shambhu Kumar Yadav for performing a selective abortion at the facility. Mirchaiya Nursing Home, situated at the Mirchaiya marketplace of Siraha, is considered both expensive and well equipped. Dr Yadav’s case has reached the district court, and the police are actively investigating the incident.
The law prohibits selective abortion and abortion of a fetus after three months of pregnancy in normal case. But female feticide is still prevalent across the country. Reports show that male child preference is much stronger in the Tarai districts due to the deep-rooted dowry system that discourages families from having daughters.
In Siraha, it’s not a taxing job to find families with several daughters and a single son, the youngest one. Giving birth to many daughters in the hope of having a son next time takes a severe toll on a family’s economy and well being. However, the practice continues to prevail.
Such families usually end up searching private clinics, nursing homes, and hospitals to perform sex identification tests and then to perform an abortion if the fetus is female. Both of these activities are illegal; however, some clinics and nursing homes provide such service by charging exorbitant costs.
According to SP Uma Prasad Chaturvedi Siraha, chief of Police, Siraha, the case of Dr Yadav is being investigated following a complaint filed with the police. The complaint states that Dr Yadav carried out selective abortion of a woman from Gulariya, Siraha Municipality – 10, on July 8 for Rs 12,000. The woman had approached the doctor five days earlier. The news had come out as the woman’s bleeding did not stop after the abortion.
According to locals, though illegal abortion is widespread in the region, such cases hardly come out. Agreement between doctor and customer keep the matter undercover. But Dr Yadav’s case has now alarmed hospitals and doctors.
Earlier on May 4, the dead body of a newborn was spotted near a hospital in Lahan Municipality – 3. After investigation, a suspect was arrested by the police. However, the case did not conclude the lack of evidence.
A health worker based in Golbazar, said that women usually are forced to opt for such illegal abortion by son preference and conceiving through illicit relationship. Even though people are more educated these days, their mindset regarding the family structure and values have not changed.
“Because you feel that your dynasty will live longer only if you have a son, people still prefer to have at least one son. People still believe that an individual’s place in the heavenly abode is not assured unless they have a son,” he noted. “I have seen even educated couples giving priority to son over daughter,” he added.
Hospital Chowk, Lahan Chowk, Naya Bazar, and Shadhi Chowk areas are quite known for clinics that offer illegal abortion service. Similarly, there are a vast number of unregistered medical shops. Requesting anonymity the health worker said that the demand for such services is so massive, that some people want gender discrimination to live long.
In a bid to change the scenario, the provincial government has introduced ‘Beti Bachau campaign’. Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut has announced a lot of schemes and packages for changing parent’s perception towards daughters. As part of its awareness campaign, the government has posted posters and pamphlets in villages and towns of Lahan, Mirchiya, Golbazar, among other areas.
“But all this has not worked. Though the government has introduced many programs to save daughters, it has not been able to regulate abortion centers that provide illegal abortion services,” commented Saroj Yadav of Lahan. “You will find illegal abortion center almost everywhere in this area. And the price they make you pay for the service is shocking.”
Till 12 weeks, government health centers and hospitals offer abortion service for women for free. After that, women can go for abortion only if certain conditions are met. However, selective abortion is not allowed in any situation.
Rampant abortion centers in the district are not just a threat to the rule of law but also to women’s health and life. Unprofessional handling of abortion cases have led to server health issues and even caused deaths in some cases. But such cases mostly go unreported.