India sterilization program leaves 12 women dead

83 surgeries conducted within 6 hours, says state chief medical officer Dr. S.K. Mandal

At least 12 Indian women are dead and 20 others seriously ill Wednesday after undergoing free sterilization operations, highlighting the risks women face in reproductive health in a country struggling with high population growth and widespread poverty.

A total of 83 women, all villagers under the age of 32, had the operations Saturday as part of the free sterilization campaign and were sent home that evening. But dozens later became ill and were rushed in ambulances to private hospitals in Bilaspur, a city in central Chhattisgarh state.

By Wednesday morning, at least 12 women had died, District Magistrate Siddharth Komal Pardeshi told Press Trust of India.

The apparent cause of death was either blood poisoning or hemorrhagic shock, which occurs when a person has lost too much blood, state deputy health director Amar Singh said, though the preliminary results from autopsies were expected to be released Wednesday.

About 20 others were in critical care, and the central government was rushing a team of doctors to Bilaspur to help with their treatment.

“Their condition is very serious. Blood pressure is low,” said Dr. Ramesh Murty at CIMS hospital, one of the facilities where the sick women were taken. “We are now concentrating on treating them, not on what caused this.”

India’s government — long concerned about pervasive poverty among its rapidly growing 1.3 billion population— performs millions of free sterilizations to both women and men who want to avoid the risk and cost of having a baby. The vast majority of patients, however, are poor women — paid a one-time incentive fee to undergo the surgery of about $10-$20 US, or the equivalent of about a week’s pay for a poor person in India. About 180 million people in the country still live on less than $1.25 a day.

India has one of the world’s highest rates of sterilization among women, with about 37 per cent undergoing such operations compared with 29 per cent in China, according to 2006 statistics reported by the United Nations. During 2011-12, the government said 4.6 million Indian women were sterilized.

Incentive payments, sterilization quotas criticized

Activists blame the incentive payments, as well as sterilization quotas set by the government, for leading health authorities to pressure patients into surgery rather than advising them on other forms of contraception.

“These women have become victims because of the target-based approach to population control,” said Brinda Karat of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, who has demanded that the state’s health minister resign.

India has one of the world’s worst records on maternal health care, with 200 women dying during pregnancy or childbirth for every 100,000 patients, compared with China’s 37 deaths for every 100,000 women who give birth. Its infant mortality rate — 63 of every 1,000 newborns die — also makes it one of the worst places on Earth to be born. By comparison, China records about 15 infant deaths for every 1,000 births.

The women who underwent surgery on Saturday were each paid about $10, and all 83 surgeries were performed within six hours, the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. S.K. Mandal, told the Associated Press by telephone.

“That is not usual,” he said, but declined to comment further until the autopsies had determined exactly what went wrong.

The state suspended four government doctors, including the surgeon who oversaw the operations and the district’s chief medical officer.

“It appears the incident occurred due to negligence” by doctors, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said, before urging patience for the autopsy results. He also said the victims’ families would each receive a compensation payment of about $6,600.

Vasectomies rare in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Myanmar, where he was on an official visit, that he had spoken with Singh and urged a thorough investigation.

Meanwhile, the state’s surgeons held an emergency meeting Tuesday night to discuss whether to continue with the state’s sterilization schedule, with a target of 180,000 for the year ending in March set by the central government, Mandal said. They also were discussing surgery practices and guidelines, he said.

The World Health Organization advises that a patient be monitored for 48 hours after undergoing laparoscopic, or “keyhole,” sterilization surgeries like those conducted in Bilaspur. The procedure is one of the most commonly performed, minimally invasive surgeries, and is usually done under local anasthetic.

A spokeswoman for the federal Health Ministry declined to confirm whether the central government was setting sterilization quotas. India’s central government had said it stopped setting targets for sterilizing women in the 1990s.

India was one of the first countries to introduce family planning as a government program in the 1960s, when the country’s population was less than half what it is today at about 450 million. But outrage erupted in the 1970s after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a policy of forcibly sterilizing men who had already fathered two children. Opponents at the time said the program also targeted unmarried and poor men, with doctors given bonuses for operating on low-income patients. Since then, vasectomies have been relatively unpopular in India, with only about 1 per cent of men opting for the procedure.

© The Associated Press, 2014The Canadian Press

Living Archives Interactive Website World Wide Release

The Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada has launched the ‘long awaited’ website on Friday Oct 24, 2014. You can explore the website now by typing in this URL: http://eugenicsarchive.ca/

BIG thanks to the technical team, Natasha Nunn (Tech team lead), Ben McMahen, and Colette Leung! Numerous Living Archives team members have contributed to the content.

In the weeks to come the site will be filled with more content as articles are still being returned from reviews and a few section are stil be worked on.

Please share the website and watch for new additions to come!

Alberta Eugenics Awareness Week (AEAW) 2014 ~ Oct 17 – Oct 26, 2014

This year, the final AEAW, the calendar of events includes 14 opportunities to participate – Join us!

Alberta Eugenics Awareness Week (AEAW) 2014 ~ Oct 17 – Oct 26, 2014

Friday Oct 17 – Team Meeting, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada. 2-02A Assiniboia Hall (9:00 am – 11:30 am) then continues from 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm.

Friday Oct 17 – Persons’ Day Panel: Eugenic Survivors Share their Stories. Panelists: Leilani Muir, Judy Lytton, Glenn Sinclair. Noon – 1:00 pm. Henderson Hall, Rutherford South. Free & Wheelchair accessible.

Friday Oct 17 – Disintegration by CRIPSiE (Colloboravtive Radically Integrated Performers Society in Edmonton) performances by people with disabilities at PCL Theatre 10330 – 84 Ave, tickets at the door ($15 or what you can pay) 8:00 pm

Saturday Oct 18 – Team Meeting, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada, 2-02A Assiniboia Hall (9:00 am – 2:00 pm). Lunch provided RSVP to moyra@ualberta.ca by Noon Oct 15.

Saturday Oct 18 – Disintegration by CRIPSiE (Colloboravtive Radically Integrated Performers Society in Edmonton) performances by people with disabilities at PCL Theatre 10330 – 84 Ave, tickets at the door ($15 or what you can pay) 8:00 pm

Monday Oct 20 – Surviving Eugenics in the 21st Century: Our Stories Told. Daytime showing for students and those who can not attend the evening. (doors at 11:15 am/film at 12:00 pm ) followed by a short discussion by people featured in the film. Metro Cinema at the Garneau, 8712 – 109 Street NW, Edmonton. Trailer: http://youtu.be/ysys-1bQQ9g; closed captioned. ASL interpretation available – contact Moyra; wheelchair access through the alley entrance. FREE!

Monday Oct 20 – Surviving Eugenics in the 21st Century: Our Stories Told Evening Show, with Q&A and a reception, (doors at 6:15 pm/film at 7 pm) Metro Cinema at the Garneau, 8712 – 109 Street NW, Edmonton. Trailer: http://youtu.be/ysys-1bQQ9g; closed captioned. ASL interpretation available – contact Moyra; wheelchair access through the alley entrance. FREE!

Tuesday Oct 21 – Across Communities Together (ACT) 2014: A Workshop for Connections & Change (9:00 am – 4:00 pm) By invitation. Co-sponsored with the Self Advocacy Federation (SAF).

Wednesday Oct 22 – Rob Wilson, The Role of Oral History in Surviving a Eugenic Past (12:00 pm – 1:00 pm) Tory Breezeway 2, Co-sponsored with the Department of History & Classics, University of Alberta. Free & Accessible.

Thursday Oct 23 – Colloquium, Eugenics and Philosophy, Panelists: Rob Wilson, University of Alberta, Josh St. Pierre, University of Alberta, (3:30 pm – 5:00 pm) 2-02A Assiniboia Hall. Free & Accessible.

Friday Oct 24 – Living Archives Interactive Website Release, 331 CAB (12:00 pm– 1:00 pm). Technical Team Lead Natasha Nunn along with Ben McMahon, Colette Leung, and Rob Wilson will demonstrate the website features and highlight the interactive aspects of the website. Participants can follow along and explore the site at computers throughout the demonstration. Free & Accessible.

Friday Oct 24 – Difference & Diversity: An Evening of Performances, featuring local artists, and performers. Education North 4-104. Doors at6:30 pm, performances at 7:00 pm. Free & Accessible. ASL interpretation available – contact Moyra.

Saturday Oct 25 – Sins Invalid, a film. Witness a performance project that incubates & celebrates artists with disabilities. CCIS 1 140 (Doors at 2:30, film at 3:00 pm) followed by a Q&A with Patty Berne via Skype. Co-sponsored with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre. Free & Wheelchair accessible, ASL Interpretation available – contact Moyra

Sunday Oct 26 – Writing the Wrongs: Alberta Authors Tell Our Eugenic Story – Three local writers: Leilani Muir, A Whisper Past (non-fiction); Theresa Shea, The Unfinished Child (fiction); David Cheoros, The Invisible Child (drama). Readings and reception (1:00 pm – 3:30 pm) Location TBA – contact Moyra. Free & Accessible.

ASL Interpretation can be arranged for any event by contacting moyra@ualberta.ca (780-248-1211) prior to the event.
Events are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

Professor Erika Dyck to be awarded – THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF CANADA WELCOMES THE INAUGURAL COHORT OF “THE COLLEGE”

The RSC has named the inaugural 91 members of The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Those named to the College have been nominated by 51 Canadian universities and the National Research Council, and they represent the emerging generation of scholarly, scientific and artistic leadership in Canada.

Together, the members of the College will address issues of particular concern to new scholars, artists and scientists, for the advancement of understanding and the benefit of society, taking advantage of the interdisciplinary approaches fostered by the establishment of the College.

“This is an important moment in the history of the Royal Society of Canada,” said RSC President Graham Bell. “The College is Canada’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of leaders.” Dr. Bell added, “Together, the members of the College will be in a position to provide guidance on issues of importance to Canadians, and to promote Canadian achievements in the arts, humanities and sciences around the world.”

The Presentation for this first cohort will take place on Friday, November 21 at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, with a banquet to follow. These landmark events are proudly supported by Concordia University. To register for these events, please visit the Society’s website at http://www.rsc-src.ca

A complete list of the inaugural cohort of the College and their nomination citations is available here

Congratulations to Dr. Erika Dyck, the newest inaugural member of The Royal Society of Canada!

DYCK, Erika – Department of History, University of Saskatchewan
Erika Dyck (CRC) has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most active and thorough scholars studying the history of medicine. Her research has exposed many controversial medical research trends, particularly relating to eugenics and the use of psychedelic drugs in psychiatry. Several renowned scholars have described Dr. Dyck’s work as ground-breaking, and her research has given a voice to many marginalized communities that have been historically suppressed.

Exploring Eugenics: a Workshop

Friday September 12, 2014, 10:30 am – Noon, at Concordia University, Montreal (PR-100, at 210 MacKay Street)

In this interactive workshop that should appeal to students and researchers from a range of disciplines—including philosophy, history, science studies, sociology, education, biology—Rob Wilson will lead participants through a hands-on introduction to the multi-media, developmental website of the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project (www.eugenicsarchives.ca). Team members have worked with eugenics survivors and a variety of community partners over the past four years to build a range of educational resources for exploring the largely unknown history of eugenics in Canada. The developmental website, which will go public later in the Fall, is structured around about 10 modules and includes survivor video narratives, a look at eugenics ‘around the world’, a connections module that provides a ’mind map’ of eugenics concepts, and a eugenics timeline. The workshop will provide an introduction and overview of (a) the project, (b) the history of eugenics and its connection to contemporary ideas and policies, and (c) the educational tools themselves. Participants will benefit most if they can bring a laptop, though this is not required to participate.

Rob Wilson is Professor of Philosophy and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta, and the principal investigator of the CURA-funded Living Archives project. Rob works in various areas of philosophy, including the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, the philosophy of biology, the history of philosophy, and disability studies, and his workshops and lectures are typically aimed at a broad interdisciplinary audience. He is director of Philosophy for Children Alberta, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and currently serves as the program co-chair for the next meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, to will be held in Montreal in July 2015. Rob will also be giving a philosophy colloquium on Friday, 12th September, at 3.30, ‘Knowing Agency from the Margins’ (http://philosophy.concordia.ca/).

A Whisper Past: Childless after Eugenic Sterilization in Alberta by Leilani Muir

Leilani Muir, eugenic survivor has written her biography and launched it at the Alberta Gallery of Art on May 24, 2014. The event was hosted by the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada (http://eugenicsarchive.ca/). Leilani was the first person to file a successful law suit against the province of Alberta, Canada for wrongful sterilization under the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta.

Muir lived in several small towns in Alberta until she was sent to the Red Deer institution. The education she received there did not prepare her for life on the outside, but after she left the institution and escaped from her mother’s custody and at the age of 20, she learned quickly and worked in several cities in Western Canada as a waitress, a retail sales person, and a baby sitter, caring for as many as six children at one time. Only when she married did she learn the awful truth about the sterilization. After winning her case in court, her story was featured in a documentary by the National Film Board of Canada. She spoke at several public forums in Canada, The United States and France, and she ran for election to the Alberta legislature for the New Democratic Party. Recently she was designated a Game Changer on the CBC radio show The Currents, and her story was dramatized in the play The Invisible Child at the Edmonton Fringe theatre festival. She now serves as a governing board member for the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada, a Community-University Research Alliance project at the University of Alberta. Leilani’s story educates us about Canada’s eugenic past and raises awareness about the on-going discrimination against people with disabilities.

You can get a copy of Leilani’s book “A Whisper Past” online at: http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000013125148/Leilani-Muir-A-Whisper-Past

cropped book cover

Watch for “Surviving Eugenics in the 21st Century: Our Stories Told” a film highlighting the experiences of eugenic survivors, featuring Leilani and others including several local people with disabilities. The film and reception will be held at the Metro Cinema, in Edmonton on Monday October 20, 2014 as part of Alberta Eugenics Awareness Week 2014. For more details about AEAW 2014 and the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada go to our website: http://eugenicsarchive.ca/#events-section

We Were Children

If you missed the recent broadcast of We Were Children you can still watch the full movie online. It will be available for viewing until April 23.

We Were Children

We Were Children is a 2012 Canadian documentary film about the experiences of First Nations children in the Canadian Indian residential school system. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada. For over 130 years, Canada’s First Nations children were legally required to attend Government-funded schools run by various orders of the Christian faith. ‘We Were Children’ is based on the testimony of two survivors.

A 24 hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is posted at the beginning of the film offering assistant to anyone who is distressed by the broadcast: 1-866-925-4419

The film was shot in Manitoba, in Winnipeg, St-Pierre-Jolys and at the former Portage residential school, now the Rufus Prince building, in Portage la Prairie. It was produced by Kyle Irving for Eagle Vision, Loren Mawhinney for eOne Television, and produced and executive produced by David Christensen for the National Film Board of Canada. The executive producer for the Eagle Vision was Lisa Meeches, whose parents and older siblings were sent to residential schools.

Meeches, who spent over seven years travelling across Canada to collect residential school survivors’ stories for the Government of Canada, has stated that the idea for the film originated from a discussion she’d had at the Banff World Media Festival.[6] It was Meeches who approached director Wolochatiuk with the project. CBC Manitoba reporter Sheila North Wilson assisted the production by translating material in the script from English to Cree.
We Were Children premiered on October 2, 2012 at the Vancouver International Film Festival, followed by a screening at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto on October 18. It was broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in March 2013, followed by a DVD release from the National Film Board of Canada on April 12, 2013. (background information taken from the wikipedia article written on the film).

Today, March 27, 2014 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada begins hearings at the Shaw Conference Centre. The hearings are open to the public and attendance is encouraged. As the TRC Mandate (1998) stated, it is not only the sincere “acknowledgement of the injustices and harms experienced by Aboriginal people” but also the community’s step for “continued healing” and “[paving] [of] the way for reconciliation” that is the overall aim of testimonies through the the context of the TRC.

The program for the TRC in Edmonton can be found here:http://www.trc.ca/websites/alberta/index.php?p=766

NO REGISTRATION NEEDED TO ATTEND.
Those wishing to provide a statement to the Commission may register onsite during the event.

CAN’T COME? The Alberta National Event will be livestreamed at http://www.trc.ca.