Saturday, 29 October 2011

Peru: Forced sterilisation investigation to be reopened

Peru has informed the Inter-American Human Rights Commission that it will reopen the investigation into cases of forced sterilisation which took place in the country in the 1990s. This is a rather unexpected piece of good news; the forced sterilisation of mostly poor and indigenous women is an element of Peru's conflict which was not examined in the truth commission. There is therefore a real need to look into this.

There is often mention of one specific case, Maria Mamerita Mestanza, who died following a tubal ligation in 1998. Important though her case is, it is merely emblematic of a much wider scandal involving many thousands of women, the majority of whom were poorly literate or illiterate, rural, and Quechua-speaking, and were either pressured, coerced or deceived into undergoing sterilisation procedures.

Just in case this problem doesn't seem particularly severe in the context of the violence that Peru was experiencing at the time, it's worth remembering that the UN Genocide Convention (1948) classes imposing measures intended to prevent births within a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as genocide.

Good background information is provided by Jocelyn E. Getgen in Untold Truths: The exclusion of forced sterilisations from the Peruvian truth commission's final report, full text available here in PDF form.

Peru to reopen probe into forced sterilization of women (LA Times blog)
Peruvian prosecutors reopen investigation of forced sterilizations during Fujimori government (Washington Post)

No comments: