By Kamala Gautam
Friday, May 20, 2011
Nepal has halved its fertility rate over 30 years, but rural women are still experiencing many pregnancies and scant help during labor. One woman's story made it onto a radio station and helped save her life.
The government says radio is the most popular way to transmit family planning messages in rural areas, but women say they can meet cultural resistance.
Sarita Tamang, 27, from Chepang's district, says her body is tired after giving birth to three daughters. But she says that women in her village, who usually deliver at home, are too shy and embarrassed to go to the local health post to obtain contraceptives, which she learned about on the radio.
"What can I do?" she asks. "My husband has said that he needs a son anyhow."
Chepang says she also learned about an operation to prevent future pregnancies on the radio but that her husband told her that showing her private parts to others was shameful.
But then Kiran Gautam, assistant inspector general of the police, heard Chepang's story on the radio, thanks to a youth in Chepang's village, and offered to pay for the operation.
"Seeing a woman, who is barely 50, in such a state and knowing how she was compelled to lead this life of pain, I realized that the status of women in Nepal is still very lamentable," he says.
Chepang's uterus was surgically removed last year.
"I had given myself up for dead and never believed that I could lead a normal life ever again," Chepang says, smiling. "I feel like I have been given a new lease to life by God himself."
Chepang now promotes family planning.
"Sasu-aama [mother-in-law] has advised me not to have more than two children," Chepang's daughter-in-law, Sharmila, says shyly.
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Kamala Gautam joined Global Press Institute's Nepal News Desk in 2007 and reports on health, family and women's issues.
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