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Womb, womanhood and medical ethics: concern about rising hysterectomy cases in India
  1. Subhendu K Acharya
  1. Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi, Delhi-110007, India; a.subhendu@gmail.com

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Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery performed on women in India, after caesarean sections. An estimated national mean age at hysterectomy is 30–40 years, and this is as low as 24 years in Andhra Pradesh.1 However, India does not have a national surveillance mechanism in this regard. Fieldwork conducted among several tribes and rural communities in Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar witnessed high incidences of hysterectomy-related medical anomalies and narratives of women's suffering.

Normally, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, cancer and hyperplasia result in a hysterectomy.2 However, women suffering from reproductive tract infection or those seeking permanent sterilisation, particularly those from underprivileged, rural and tribal backgrounds, predominantly reported unethical medical practices in connection with hysterectomy; male patriarchy, women's low status in society, ignorance and superstitious …

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