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India Works on Reversing Sterilizations Following Tsunami

After the 2004 Asian tsunami wiped away a large segment of the Indian population, including many children, efforts began to help couples reverse sterilization procedures.

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  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO, Correspondent, Twin Cities Public Television:

    Relief camps now dot the area where the tsunami hit India hardest, the impoverished villages near Nagapattinam, on India's southeastern coast.

    About 2,000 children perished, a third of all victims in this region. What's especially painful is that many of the parents who survived them had already been sterilized. Sterilization is one of India's most common forms of birth control.

    Fishing communities like this would typically be prime targets for India's family planning program. Women are urged to become sterilized after the birth of their second or third child. They usually agree, if at least one of those children is a boy.

    Beyond basic food and shelter, the challenge was how to deal with post-tsunami depression. Parents were wracked with guilt, says district collector J. Radhakrishnan. He's the top government official here.

  • J. RADHAKRISHNAN, District Collector:

    They have guilt that they couldn't save their children. This gets compounded by the fact that, you know, because of the sterilization, they cannot even start to have a kid.