Forced family planning is happening countywide – Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera
By Panchamee Hewavissenti
General Secretary of Bodu Bala Sena, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera slams the authorities for not taking actions to abrogate illegal abortion and birth control centres, operating in the country, which has led to making many women in the country infertile, even if they wish to have more children.
"The incident which took place at the Dambulla Hospital is not an isolated occurrence and is an aftermath of the disregard of the authorities, even after we the BBS had informed them, well in advance that several organizations are involved in operating illicit abortion centres in Sri Lanka," said the Thera in an exclusive interview with Ceylon Today. The Thera further remarked that they have identified two NGOs that are operating in Sri Lanka for more than two decades and are involved in all type of activities related to birth control by Sri Lankan women."The Ministry of Health should interfere and come forward to make decisions on the population of Sri Lanka, failing which, could lead to the extinction of Sinhala ethnicity."
Excerpts of the interview:
?: What is your view on the recent incident of a doctor at Dambulla Hospital compelling a woman to perform a surgery to prevent future pregnancies?
A: This incident had led to much hue and cry in society, although this is not the first time and Dambulla is not the only hospital that this type of incident was reported. Such incidents were reported from hospital such as Kandy, Kurunegala, Deniyaya and Nuwara Eliya and so on. We call this activity "sterilization" and during 2012 and 2013 we managed to draw the attention of the authorities regarding this issue.
There are many such doctors countrywide involved in sterilizing Sri Lankan women. This is also a type of mafia akin to the drug mafia operating in the country. The authorities should investigate on the organizations that are behind this.
?: Have you informed the authorities regarding this "sterilization" issue?
A: Yes of course. We have executed our duty in an efficient manner, whereas, the authorities have failed to carry out their responsibility. We informed the former government of this "sterilizations". These pregnancy preventing surgeries are done under duress and are performed by a few organizations in an illicit manner with the assistance of some officials at the Ministry of Health. We raided some of the centres where this type of illicit abortions are carried out and organizations that import utensils that are used to perform abortions. It is sad to mention that our effort was in vain because, the findings were not acted upon. The illegal organizations are still operating in the country without any issue.
We handed over our findings to former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, himself and the former Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena. Apart from handing over the information, we also carried out discussions at the Ministry of Health. Unfortunately, no action was taken post discussions.
?: So, were you able to identify the organizations that are involved in this type of activities?
A: Yes. We have identified two organizations that are operating in Sri Lanka; headquarters of one of those is located in England.
These two organizations over the past decade have managed to sterilize approximately one million women in Sri Lanka. The income they receive by engaging in sterilizing women in Sri Lanka exceeds Rs 800 million.
In 1988, the Ministry of Health had issued certain requirements to be fulfilled in order to get an LRT surgery done. The female should be over 26 years of age, should have had at least two children and the second child should be over two years by the time the surgery is to be performed. Aforementioned two organizations are engaged in performing surgeries that prevent future pregnancies breaching the regulations that the Ministry of Health have imposed. Covetous over the colossal amount of money, certain doctors, midwives and officials at the Ministry of Health execute varied plans to entice and compel women to perform surgeries that prevent future pregnancies. These organizations allocate money for each woman to be sterilized. This amount is divided among doctors, midwives and the women who will be subject to the surgery.
The law allows only 15 sterilizing surgeries a day in a country. But the said organizations have managed to perform over 40 surgeries a day in Sri Lanka.
?: Do you say only the Sinhala women are targeted for such surgeries?
A: I should say 99 per cent of women who are compelled and enticed to perform birth preventing surgeries are Sinhalese, uneducated and of low income earning families. They are mainly targeted. We have all the data with regard to that.
The doctors of Tamil speaking areas have comprehended the weight of this issue. Even though, the law states that the age limit to perform pregnancy preventing surgeries is 26, those doctors have recommended to raise the age limit up to 40 years. Tamil speaking women who seek medical advice for such surgeries were advised to do it after 40 years.
?: Despite illicit abortions, some women have to undergo abortions under the recommendation of doctors on medical reasons.Are you against all types of abortions?
A: No. We are not clamouring against abortions or any other surgery to prevent pregnancy that is done under medical recommendations. They have a legal base and should be performed if the pregnancy is injurious to the health of the mother.
What we stress is to abrogate these organizations which are involved in performing activities with regard to preventing childbirth in an illicit manner and who are compelling women to get surgeries done that prevent future pregnancies. We also emphasise that the government should take actions to acquire the assets earned by such organizations by performing sterilization surgeries on Sri Lankan women.
?: Under what guise are these abortion centres operating?
A: They are assigned with the duty of controlling the population of the country. They are operating with the patronage of the Ministry of Health. This is a national responsibility that should be executed by the government authorities not by any outside organizations. They are operating in the country without any proper inspection and are engaged in illicit activities as well. These organizations were given the permission to operate in the country in 1970s. Considering the economic and resource factors, the then government would have permitted these organizations to operate in a harmless manner. These organizations are still operating without any transparency or supervision by government authorities.
?: Have you informed the present government authorities regarding this matter?
A: I informed the former government officials and politicians in detail with regard to this matter. The same politicians are in power at present. I don't think these politicians will act upon these matters unless they are personally benefitted by that.
Although we continue to reveal these social issues, we cannot expect that politicians to come forward to eradicate these social issues.
These organizations bribe politicians and the government officials to attain their goal. So, we can keep faith neither in politicians nor government officials.
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