A courageous woman with 600 autopsies to her credit

Performing autopsies came as a challenge to Santoshi Durga, 30, because her father would drink alcohol while performing post-mortems. He had become an alcoholic. Worried about her father's addiction, Santoshi bet her father on performing dissection without getting drunk and offered to do the job without touching alcohol. That's how her journey began

Tameshwar SinhaTameshwar Sinha   16 July 2019 7:29 AM GMT

There is a story behind Santoshi Durga, a 30-year-old sweeper, taking to performing autopsies involving examination of a corpse by dissection to determine the cause of death or research work. The very mention of the procedure makes people feel uneasy. And a woman doing it!

It came as a challenge to Durga because her father would drink alcohol while performing post-mortems. His job at Narharpur's Government hospital was to dissect corpses for investigation by pathologists.

He would come back home in a drunken state as he had become an alcoholic. "He would say it's not possible to dissect a corpse while in one's senses," she recalled.



On one occasion, Santoshi bet her father on performing dissection without getting drunk. Worried about her father's addiction, she offered to do the job without touching alcohol. "In 2004, I performed my first post-mortem at Kishanpuri village. A five-day old corpse was dug out from a grave and I dissected its already torn-out body parts."

Carrying out autopsy not only tested her courage, but also her sentiments. She narrated her story with pride and with teary eyes. Her hands didn't shake while dissecting the skull of a corpse, nor did she step back from its stink. She won the challenge and her father quit drinking, bowing to her daughter's courageous act. But he didn't live long.

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The responsibility of bringing up her two children and looking after six younger sisters forced her to take up the job at the Narharpur Community Health Centre 12 years ago.

Durga is proficient now and gets calls from hospitals in Amora and Dudhava in Narharpur Tehsil as well. She has until now dissected more than 600 corpses without losing sanity.

"Under Jeevan Deep Yojna, I was hired by the Narharpur Hospital at a monthly salary of Rs 2,600. In the past 12 years, I married off one of my sisters, while others are still completing their education," she said.



In 2004, Durga was designated as a sweeper by the hospital. Her house walls are decorated with certificates and awards won by her. She is a recipient of the Woman Empowerment Award as well as the Woman Courage Award.

She is an outspoken woman. "Awards do not satisfy our hunger, we have to work for bread and butter."

"I have given many interviews to media channels. I am exhausted now," she said. Her husband and her six sisters are proud of her and her achievements.

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