Thursday, August 4, 2016
Add another problem to the catastrophe gripping Venezuela: women opting to sterilize themselves rather than bring a new life into the chaos
No government statistics on sterilization are available, but a social worker says that she sees up to five women a day who seek to undergo a tubal ligation. One health program's 40-slot "sterilization days" historically wasn't at capacity; now the waiting list is 500-strong. The skyrocketing cost of hard-to-find contraceptives is at the root. In a March 2016 report on the country's severe food shortages, it is explained that there are "two prices for everything" in the country: the government price (which requires hours of waiting in line, and no guarantee it'll be in stock) and the black market price, which is often 10 times higher. Contraceptives started getting tough to find in December 2014. A reporter went to a dozen pharmacies and found no condoms; women say that birth control pills are similarly absent, even on the black market. When a pharmacy has a 3-pack of condoms in stock, it costs roughly 600 bolivars; the current monthly minimum wage (a combination of money and a food ticket) is about 33,000 bolivars. For ordinary Venezuelans, those prices are out of reach, and with abortion illegal except to save a mother's life, there are few options. A 38-year-old mother says that a pregnancy announcement used to be joyous news. "Now when a woman says 'I'm pregnant', everyone scolds you. It makes me sad for young women."