Over 3,000 tribal women demonstrate in Madhya Pradesh

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BHOPAL - In an unprecedented expression of anger, about 3,000 tribal women Wednesday demonstrated in Barwani before the district collector and the superintendent of police.

The demonstrators, including children, were protesting against the arrest of fellow tribals who questioned the rising incidents of maternal deaths in the district government hospitals.

The women were gathered under the banner of Jagrit Advasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), which works for the welfare of tribal farmers.

Since April 2010 at least 28 women had died during delivery and between April and November 2010, over 910 children had died in the government hospitals in Barwani district.

“Every week at least one woman dies and every month over a hundred children. When we demand safe delivery for mothers and safety of the infant we are sent to jails”, Madhuri Krishnaswami of JADS told IANS.

Over 1,000 people gathered peacefully in Barwani Dec 28 to protest the rising number of maternal deaths at the district hospital and the lack of accountability for the deaths.

Police arrested one protester, threatened to arrest others, and issued a warrant for another participant on charges of rioting, being part of an unlawful assembly, and obstructing public servants from performing their duties.

Tribal communities in the region face daunting challenges in getting life-saving maternal health care, Human Rights Watch, the said. Health rights activists also recorded a number of cases in which pregnant women who sought emergency obstetric care had been turned away from the Barwani district hospital and referred to a larger hospital in Indore city, five hours away.

During demonstration, the tribal women asked answers from officials that as during the delivery they have been abused by doctors, if their mothers and sisters have to face the conditions.

“What officials are ensuring is institutional delivery under the national rural health mission but not the safe delivery”, added Madhuri.

Significantly, the officials remained behind barricades during the demonstration and no one assured the protesting tribal women anything on the issue.

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