Mental shift

Manage your mind and you can manage your life

Pregnant women bear the brunt of Orissa violence

Posted by jytmkh on October 13, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: The relentless persecution of Christians in Kandhmal, forcing them to remain in relief camps scattered across Orissa, is now presenting

 

a new problem — unsafe deliveries by women. Stranded without access to doctors, hospitals or medical kits, most women are delivering in relief camps with the help of fellow refugees and — if they are fortunate — some anganwadi workers.

But not all have been lucky to be able to give birth. “There have been 10 miscarriages in the past week,” said Jyotirmoy Naik in Cuttack. “Nirmala Digal, Mita Digal, Ranju Naik, Padmini Naik, Mithila Naik — all miscarried because there’s no help for expecting women at the camps.”

Jacob Pradhan, a Christian priest, said: “In the last week, three women in Baliguda delivered babies, but all away from hospitals. They gave birth in unhygienic conditions and got the help of anganwadi workers. It’s a huge struggle.”

Rev Prakash Naik, who’s active in the Raikia camps, said even if women do manage to give birth, the conditions in the relief shelters are so bad that mortality is a big fear. “Just look around Vijaya school camp and you’ll see what I mean. Survival is a huge factor. Water has gathered in dirty, mosquito-infested puddles and people are defecating in the open.”

Many other miscarriages took place as Christians fled to the jungles and stayed there for days with attacks against them showing no signs of abating.

“Pregnant women suffered as they hid in the forests. While lack of food hindered healthy deliveries for the emaciated, others slipped and fell while running for their lives,” said Krishna Kanta Naik, a social worker in Baliguda.

“Nine women have delivered at the camps in the past week, but the children are very unhealthy.”

Caught in such testing times, the names of the babies, before their formal christening, reflect the travails of the mothers. While one infant is called Danga (riot), another is Sangram (rebellion). “Of course, the formal names will be given after 21 days, as is our ritual, but elders are calling them by these names,” said Nalin Naik.

“Because these are the only words that are there in the minds of people here right now.”

But what is also upsetting many in the camps, apart from risk-laden deliveries, is the inability to observe ‘ekusia’, the 21-day ritual marked by women when someone among them has a baby. (TOI)

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