The Cashew Crunch

What would drive women to abort foetuses and choose a life without children?

In a village in Kerala where cashew nuts grow and are treated with endosulphan pesticides, women have chosen these drastic self imposed measures to prevent serious birth defects in children born as the surrounding soil and water became contaminated.  Since no support exists for the children and their families the women could not face the burden of giving birth to a child with serious birth defects and one that would remain dependent on them for life. Of course, no one wants to marry women who refuse to have children but the women have no choice but to refuse.

However, the Indian Supreme Court has now declared a temporary ban on endosulphans while an examination and consultation is carried out on the effects of the pesticide. It has taken the farmers years to get to this stage, endosulphans have been used in the area since the 1960s, but this is a positive step against a huge chemicals industry.

This is a pretty strong case for organic farming methods but that’s easy to say when we are so disconnected from village farmers and food supplies from other countries and also when we’re not dependent on our local environment to make a living. Britain is a recipient of Indian cashews do protest with our pounds to help the farmers make a change? Would it even make a difference?


4 Comments to “The Cashew Crunch”

  1. I feel so awful for these women – but are they being told that their unborn children will be born with defects or are they aborting them “just in case” ?

    My friend had an abortion while we were at university and she seemed fine and even joked about her boobs being bigger – 15 years later we were in a bar and out of the blue she discussed her abortion and it was devastating to see how affected she was by it.

  2. I too feel awful for these women as I do for anon’s friend.

    The Asian culture has huge difficulties coping with disabilities and maybe for these women, where support for them is limited if non existent, not having these children is the only option.

    What a tragic story. This is really heart breaking.

  3. Hello,

    The women are getting scans during pregnancy and they are told by doctors if the child will have a deformaty so the parents can decide whether to abort. It is quite tragic isn’t it?

  4. It was reported today in The Indian Express that the Indian government have decided to ban the use of the chemical but apparently in practical terms this means that now more expensive and more hazardous chemicals will be used instead, only not endosulphan. Oh dear.


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