Villagers Boycott Odisha Tribal Couple For Taking Newborn To Hospital

Keonjhar: Taking his newborn baby girl to the hospital post-delivery has cost Gunaram Murmu, a 22-year-old tribal of Jugalkishorepur village under Ghasipura police station of Keonjhar district, social ostracism from the villagers.

The locals asserted that taking the newborn and her mother for a health check-up is against their traditional customs. Though Gunaram had arranged an ambulance to take his wife, Sugu, to the sub-divisional health hospital in Anandpur, by the time it arrived, his wife had already delivered the baby.

While Sugu and the newborn were being taken to the hospital, some foetal blood fell on the floor of his house which reportedly upset the villagers. “The village headman and others said as per customs if a woman is sent to hospital after the delivery of the baby then the village is desecrated. I was asked to give three roosters, handia (a local brew) and some puja material for the purification of the village. I refused the same as I consider these superstitious practices,” Gunaram was quoted as saying.

The tribal youth alleged that after he refused to concede, his family was socially boycotted, so he lodged a case with the Ghasipura police station on November 1.

Sub-inspector of Ghasipura police station, Manas Ranjan Panda, who went to the village to inquire into the allegations, said, villagers were upset over foetal blood falling on the floor and wanted penance. He was able to sort the issue after a discussion with them.

According to Health department officials in Keonjhar, institutional delivery in the district was 98 per cent in 2020-21, up from 72.2 per cent in 2015-16.

Additional district medical officer (family welfare), Koenjhar, Dr Pranatini Nayak said There has been a steady rise in the number of institutional deliveries in the district in the last few years due to targeted intervention. Many women from the tribal community are choosing to deliver their babies at hospitals.

Despite state schemes like Mamata and central schemes like Janani Sishu Suraksha Karyakram, which promote institutional delivery, tribal districts like Keonjhar are beset with problems such as superstition.

OB Bureau

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