The National Family Health Survey-5 shows that India has made progress in several areas related to health and human development during the previous phase (2015-2016). But it also reveals that reproduction and family planning remain solely the burden of women. According to the NFHS-5, male sterilization as a current method of family planning remained unchanged from the NFHS-4 at 0.3%. On the other hand, female sterilization has increased from 36% to 37.9%, although the procedures are more complicated and the recovery time longer. While 56.5% of respondents (currently married women ages 15-49) reported using a modern contraceptive method compared to 47.8% in NFHS-4, condom use is only 9.5 %, although an improvement from the previous 5.6%.
Placing the responsibility for family planning on women, who may struggle for access to care, financial resources, and even control over their own bodies due to patriarchal views of female sexuality, comes from a torrid history. . During the emergency, 6 million men were reportedly sterilized within a year. Indira Gandhi’s government was then ousted from power. The focus of family planning has shifted to women even as the bugaboo of an impending population bomb has faded.
For example, in Bihar, 34.8% of women using modern contraception opted for female sterilization in NFHS-5 compared to 20.7% previously, while male sterilization accounted for 0.1% compared to 0 previously. Yet in Kerala, a state that ranks high on social indicators, the figure was 46.6% female sterilization compared to 0.1% male. On the one hand, while apparently at least some of these women voluntarily exert control over their bodies, they can do so by making a limited choice between the risk of unwanted pregnancies and maternal mortality, and that of intervention. serious surgery.
Recently in Tamil Nadu, Karur district promoted male vasectomy as an act of love for one’s family while offering meaningful incentives including access to bank loans and housing pattas. Twenty-one men chose him this year compared to eight last year. Bringing men back into the reproductive conversation requires challenging and dismantling gender norms and roles, but interventions like TN’s may also be needed and may show faster results.