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United Nations: IWGIA promotes debate on forced sterilisations in Peru

May 4 2017

Tomorrow we are bringing a relevant issue on access to justice and redress to the 16th session of UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues with our partners ONAMIAP and FIMI: sterilisation of indigenous women in Peru. During the side event, the President of ONAMIAP Ketty Marcelo López will brief the participants about the cases and present a sneak peek of a new documentary on the issue produced by IWGIA.

A relevant debate on indigenous women’s rights

From 1996 to 2000 the government of President Alberto Fujimori implemented across Peru and in the context of a national family planning programme an unprecedented sterilisation programme targeting indigenous and peasant women as well as men. It is estimated that some 314,600 women and 24,580 men were sterilised. Although the authorities claimed that they had obtained the written consent of the victims, it has emerged that the vast majority of the women were unable to read what they were signing and did not understand what they were agreeing to. It has also emerged that the sterilized women suffered serious and multiple consequences: they were abandoned by their husbands, stigmatized by their communities, and many suffered from a number of health problems that left them unable to work.

The issue remained hidden for many years. Feeling shame, few women organized around it and human rights organizations long tended to focus their attention on the atrocities committed during the internal armed conflict. Only now do the conditions seem to be in place for systematic work to be conducted on the issue of these sterilizations. Investigations have also revealed the methods (blackmail, threats, house-to-house visits, financial incentives, etc.) used to meet the numerical targets for tubal ligations. The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for Women’s Rights (CLADEM) has concluded that only 10% of the women that were sterilized over the period in question had actually given their “genuine consent”.

We consider this particular initiative as a unique opportunity to shed light on the consequences of an unprecedented sterilisation programme and let the women victims’ voices be heard.

When? May 5th

Where? Rio Room - UN FF Building, 304 East 45th Street, New York

Organisers: ONAMIAP, FIMI and IWGIA.

Get to know the cases by watching the trailer of the documentary: