Where gun licences lure men to vasectomy camps

April 1st, 2008 - 2:59 pm ICT by admin  

Bhopal, April 1 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district has embarked upon a novel idea to promote male sterilisation - the administration has decided to grant gun licences to those who come to family planning camps and offer to undergo vasectomy, a senior official said Tuesday. These camps are being held more and more frequently now. The last two-day camp in the district started March 27. It saw 37 people came forward for vasectomy; 23 of them have applied for gun licences, according to official records.

Earlier, the number of vasectomies in Shivpuri, over 300 km from here, was almost negligible because people thought getting sterilised went against their macho image. Men used to therefore send their wives for a sterilisation operation instead, an official said.

“The number of vasectomies in the district had not even crossed the double digit figure in the past eight years. Last year, there were only eight cases of vasectomy and, surprisingly, a year before that (2006) it was only one,” Shivpuri District Collector Manish Shrivastava told IANS on phone.

“I then put on my thinking cap and tried to find out the reason behind such a poor response to vasectomy. I soon came to know that the people in this region have a penchant for their macho image and they find going for sterilisation beneath their dignity.

“Since people in this dacoit infested district also have a penchant for guns, I thought of providing them a bigger symbol of masculinity (a gun) and told them to come forward for vasectomy,” Shrivastava said.

“Guns in dacoit infested Chambal region, of which Shivpuri is a part, are not only considered a status symbol but are also a sign of manliness.”

This has obviously worked better than the Rs.1,100 given to the man undergoing vasectomy and Rs.200 to the person who motivated him - the earlier incentive schemes.

“This year, however, over 150 men have got themselves sterilised since we have offered gun licences. I expect another 100 by the end of this month,” Shrivastava said.

The collector, however, maintained that getting arms licences would depend on obtaining clearance by the police department as well as a recommendation from the sub-divisional magistrate, as before.

“The offer doesn’t mean that people with criminal backgrounds can walk in, have a vasectomy done and walk away with a gun licence.”

The district of 1.4 million people has 11,000 licensed arms. Residents say they want more because bandits have a large number of unlicensed weapons.

“I never bothered to apply for a licence before because I knew it was not so easy to get,” said Shivpuri resident K.K. Saxena, 55, who recently underwent vasectomy. “But when I heard about this, I decided to apply.”

Saxena was provided with a medical slip confirming his sterilisation to attach to his gun application.

About 10,000 to 15,000 people apply each year for gun licences in Shivpuri, but only about 500 of them manage to get them.

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