Dr. Padma Dolma, Consultant, SNM Hospital Leh: Women in Ladakh face mainly problems like infertility, hypothyroidism (TSH) level, anaemia during pregnancy and vitamin D deficiency. We urgently need to focus on infertility and TSH level.
Infertility is a problem in both male and female; usually we say that 50 percent chances are both in male and female cases. So when we start screening such a case, we screen the male first and we make sure that he doesn’t have any sperm problem. If the husband comes out normal, then we screen the wife. Male screening is a simple single-step process but for females, we have to do multiple-step processes.
Most of Ladakhi women have husbands who are in the Army. And men who are in the Army, because of the extreme weather conditions, develop problems in their sperm count. It is difficult to treat them because they cannot afford to be there for the whole year for treatment. And the female cannot go to the husband’s posting area. Hence, most of the problems in Leh are job-related.
And the second problem in Leh is PCOD (polycystic ovarian disease) which was earlier found mostly in metropolitan areas. It is now one of the commonest causes of infertility. This is mainly a hormonal disease and it’s a lifestyle disease which has been confirmed through research. Regular exercise helps avoid such a lifestyle problem.
Secondly, there is a major thyroid problem in Leh-hypothyroidism (TSH Level). In pregnancy, there are certain tests that are mandatory. The thyroid is not one of them but in Leh, we have started doing tests on TSH levels. Pregnant women having hypothyroidism can affect their babies. A baby can grow up to be mentally retarded and with other defects if the mother has hypothyroidism.
PCOD and TSH hormonal diseases can lead to infertility and both PCOD and TSH are common in Leh. We need to have the facilities of screening such cases right here so that we don’t have to send them to Delhi.
Anaemia is also a major problem in women when they get pregnant. Pregnancy is a process in which 1 or 2 grams of blood loss is there, first during pregnancy when the baby is taking most of the iron and secondly during the time of delivery. And every time you bleed, you lose a certain amount of blood. If you are not taking enough amount of iron in your diet, then you will be anaemic. The issue here is that you cannot become pregnant when you are anaemic which poses a threat to both the mother and the child. Before a woman starts conceiving, she should have a good store of iron.
We have a meat-eating population and we eat them without cooking them properly and that leads to worm infestation. Every worm takes a certain amount of blood from you. They stick to your intestines and they reproduce fast. Half of the nutrition is taken away by the worms.
We have a climatic condition that does not allow us to get access to certain vegetables that are rich in iron.
We lead a very sedentary lifestyle; we need to modify our lifestyle. We need to be more active. Today people go in their cars everywhere and they don’t walk. As a result, more diabetic patients are seen visiting hospitals. Regular exercise and physical activities are a must; otherwise one can’t get rid of this disease.
I want the people, especially women, in the periphery to be more aware of their bodies. A woman should know what happens to her during pregnancy and complications related to it. They need to come for regular checkups. Asha should be more mobile. Anaemia should be tackled more effectively and patients who are anaemic should be treated before conception. It should not be taken lightly.
Deachan Angmo, Advocate: Women have outdone men in various fields, which is an indication of their progress. However, mental, physical and sexual harassment and gender inequality continue to be a way of life for most of them. It is in this context that her awareness of the legal rights, mandated by law, gains significance.
In Leh, divorce cases are increasing at an alarming rate. People take divorce and marriage very lightly. The most unfortunate thing is many divorce cases are done in an illegal manner and, in that case, they cannot get maintenance compensation. Many people come to us and bring some papers which are done illegally and which are legally invalid.
You have to file the case properly in a court. The main reasons for increasing divorce cases are extra-marital affairs, lack of education, lack of legal awareness, early marriage, and alcohol addiction. When we talk about extra-marital affairs, women are also equally to be blamed. Today young couples do not have the correct understanding, and the unfortunate thing is that mostly the divorce cases are mutual.
Young people today are exposed to a large variety of western influences. The age-old moral virtues and values are being gradually eroded in the face of these influences. Practices unheard of and never carried out by the older generation have become common among the young. Couples do not understand the importance of marriage. Most of the divorce cases are due to petty and avoidable issues.
We can say that our social fabric is deteriorating. The bonds between families today are not so strong as they were earlier. Earlier, there were joint families in which elders would advice young couples and the scenario would change. In a nuclear family, there’s no one to consult and seek advice, and couples take their own decisions, mostly wrong.
Earlier, courts were considered as a second option for divorce settlements, but now people are more aware of their rights and rush to courts. Earlier, going to a court was considered a shame, and many of us still hold this idea.
Today, a crime against women is rising and more rapes and domestic violence cases are registered. We have even seen people in Ladakh practising bigamy which is also a crime and comes under the domestic violence Act. Basically, a second marriage is illegal and people are not aware of that.
Everyone should understand that divorce is for those who are mentally and physically tortured. Today it has become a trend and couples file divorce cases over minor and silly issues.
There are a number of laws for the protection of women, but when they themselves are not aware of the legal remedies available, it is unlikely that they would get justice.
District Para legal voluntary service is providing free legal counselling and legal aid to people. They need not pay the court fee and the advocate fee. They should, however, apply to the District Legal Services Authority or the courts in this regard. We should call for greater awareness among women on the legal remedies available to them.
In view of increasing crimes against women and violation of human rights, knowledge of law would help the needy get their grievances redressed.
- Legal awareness is the need of the hour.
- One should know about one’s rights.
- Approaching a court should not be considered as a stigma or shame in our society.
- Need to ban divorce settlements illegally and file it in a proper manner in court.
- Mediation centres should be set up.
- More women should join politics so that issues of women can be raised.
- Should have awareness about the Fundamental Rights
Take the help of law and come forward and fight for your rights and don’t take it as a shame.