Saturday 22 November 2008

Peru: Legacy of Forced Sterilizations

Peru's health ministry, known as Minsa, is to carry out a campaign focusing on the mental health of women who were forcibly sterilized during the Fujimori regime. The campaign, centred around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, will enlist the help of Quechua-speaking medical personnel. According to congresswoman Hilaria Supa Huamán, there are many cases of women presenting symptoms of depression and resentment, as well as indications that the victims are discriminated against for not being able to conceive.
Realizarán campaña de salud a favor de víctimas de la anticoncepción forzada (La Republica)

Yes, I think I would feel pretty depressed and resentful if I had been tricked into a tubal ligation or a hysterectomy during a Caesarian section, or because I had been ordered to sign a blank consent form, or because I was desperately poor and the local health centre had promised me gifts if I underwent the procedure, or because the powerful local doctor had told me I had "too many children already". All these were reasons given why impoverished, highland women were sterilized. Some of them testified that they were literally physically forced into the operating theatre, but more commonly they were pressurised, coerced or deceived. They described not finding out what the operation meant until later. Again, it's no coincidence that the main targets of the sterilization campaign were indigenous women, whose very existence as poor, non-Spanish speaking, and with a tendency to have large families made them a problem for the State. In a widespread or systematic form, forced sterilization is classed as a crime against humanity.

Using gifts as bait, Peru sterilizes poor women
(NY Times)
You can also watch a full half-hour documentary on the subject on Youtube here.

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