More than 100 women in India were apparently left out in a field after a mass sterilization at a hospital in the Malda district of West Bengal, according to multiple reports.
“Helpers” were said to have moved the women — many of them unconscious from anesthesia administered during the invasive medical procedure — from the hospital and laid them out in an open field nearby. Medical officials told Agence France-Presse that there was not enough space at the hospital for them to recover indoors.
“Over 100 women, mostly poor, came to the camp for the surgery. Immediately after the procedure, the doctors asked the helpers to move each of them to the adjacent field,” the state’s director of health services, Dr. Biswaranjan Satpathi, told AFP.
According to the Press Trust of India, the mass sterilization was carried out on Tuesday at the Manikchak Rural Health Center.
Indian TV network NDTV captured footage of the women being carried from the hospital and placed on tarps outside. According to the broadcaster, doctors at the government-run hospital broke several medical rules, such as greatly exceeding the number of procedures that can be performed in one day — said to be set at 25 per doctor. Reports differ on how many doctors carried out the procedures. NDTV, for example, claims only two doctors were responsible for the sterilizations; Tamil News Network says four doctors were involved.
Dr. Bidhan Mishra, the district’s chief medical officer of health, has launched an investigation into the doctors involved, noting that proper post-operation procedures were not followed, the Tamil News Network reports. The National Human Rights Commission is also looking into the incident.
An NDTV reporter at the hospital in Kolkata described the scene, remarking that women were brought out on stretchers and dumped on the ground outside the hospital.
“Their relatives are massaging their feet, and that’s about all the after-care they seem to be getting after the sterilization operation,” she says during the video clip.
Sterilization is performed to prevent women from becoming pregnant. In India, government policies encourage women to have the tubal ligation procedure as a means of birth control, according to the Earth Policy Institute.
Adequate after-care and hygiene following the routine operation has been an ongoing issue in the country for years. While the U.K. pledged £166 million (about $260 million) to fund sterilization programs, the aid has been used to cover the costs of forced sterilizations of the poor, the Guardian reports.
Click over to NDTV to watch video footage of the women being carted away from the hospital in Kolkata, or watch the clip above.