Women Of Venezuela Choosing Sterilization Due To Economic Hardship

It's been a dire few years in the nation of Venezuela where an economic crisis has meant that families are struggling to find work, pay for necessities, and in many cases, even find those necessities.

Women caring for young children are facing the challenge to find formula and diapers, as there are shortages of these as well as many basic items. The new reality has led an increasing number of women to turn to sterilization as opposed to bearing more children, or having any children at all.

Inflation is currently spiraling out of control, while necessities such as food and medicines are dwindling and hard to come by. Additionally, violent crimes are on the rise, which has led women as young as 27 to seek surgeons to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies.

The Washington Post notes details and statistics about this new and saddening trend.

"A study by PLAFAM, the biggest family planning clinic in the country, estimates that about 23 percent more Venezuelan women are being sterilized today as compared to four years ago, said the clinic's director, Enrique Abache. 'The financial crisis is one of the main causes for this,' he explained."
Studies have been conducted recently by social service groups to conclude how many citizens are impacted by the crisis, which has been the result of government error. The study shows that 87 percent of people in the nation are lacking enough money to buy necessities.

A mother of two spoke anonymously with the publication sharing her reasons for selecting to become sterile, stating "It wasn't a hard decision to make, It was the most feasible option … because of the country's financial situation."

The woman, 31, opted to become sterilized in November of this year after she gave birth to her second daughter, noting "It's so difficult to find contraceptive methods and the [baby's] basic needs are hard to fill."

Although the nation of Venezuela offers the most affordable government-subsidized products, such items are the least available and mothers therefore often spend entire days searching for formula and diapers for their infants and toddlers. Those who are unable to find products are then forced to turn to the black market, where such products can be found but at a much higher cost. The other option is to go without.

Shortage of contraceptives such as condoms and birth control has also caused more women to turn to sterilization surgery.

Gynecologist Damarys Ramosm, who works in Caracas, shared that Venezuelans are limited to what is available in stores and markets in the given moment. Birth control reportedly can only be found on the black market at this point, and at a very high price. There has been a trend on Instagram for Venezuelan women to find contraceptives by way of illegal sellers, where they hashtag "contraceptive method," Ramos explains. However, some illegal vendors are taking advantage and instead selling fake contraception.

Although sterilization can be very expensive for young women, who may already be raising a family, with the usual cost sitting around $1,500, many participate in "sterilization days" on which they are able to receive free or reduced-rate operations under a governmental program and nonprofit groups.

Abache states that his own clinic sees on average around 30 women per week for sterilization procedures and shares that this is many more than he was seeing four years prior. And despite the nation being mostly Catholic, the church teachings have not deterred women from choosing to use such procedures and contraception to ensure they have smaller families.

[Featured Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]