PREGNANT WOMEN in Kasargod district are fighting the endosulfan tragedy in their own way — by opting for abortion. A sacrifice conducted in silence, even a 10-year campaign against the chemical has not yet convinced the government to ban its use.
Without the intervention of the welfare state, they are now released from the fear of death and chronic disease. They have seen enough. They have lost many in a short span of time. Around 1,000 people have already died in the past seven years. Another 4,600 persons are living with chronic diseases. Most of them have babies with congenital defects — bedridden since birth. They spend their life nursing their babies till their death. They know that their babies will not grow up or go to school like normal children. They have gone through all this.
Doctors call it the ‘Hiroshima syndrome’. But these mothers have never heard of the place. They have been aborting their babies and successive governments have failed to do anything about this havoc that the deadly chemical has unleashed. Hardened by life, these women don’t want to deliver deformed children anymore. They are struggling to come to terms with the tragedy at a time when India is trying to resist a global ban on endosulfan.
Carmine Crasta, 31, lives in Yenthadukka village, close to cashew plantations owned by the state government. Her seven- year-old son Martin was born with neurological problems. Husband Maurice D’Souza, a carpenter, spends 60 percent of his earnings on the treatment of his only son. Carmine has terminated four pregnancies in the past seven years. “It was a hard decision. But I had no choice. How could I have another baby like him?” Carmine says, tears welling up in her eyes.
The couple were married in 2001. She conceived the following year only to suffer a miscarriage in eight weeks. “After six months, I became pregnant again,” she says. “We were very happy. Doctors also assured us that everything was fine and I delivered him. He was a normal baby. Very cute. But when he didn’t crawl after a year, we took him to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a neurological disorder. We have approached several doctors since then, but there is no change in his condition. I’ve not lost hope. I pray to God for a miracle.” In spite of repeated prayers, her saints have failed Carmine.
Jeemon Jacob in Tehelka. More