Forced or Coerced Sterilization

sterilisation2Forced or coerced sterilizations was one of the topics IFHHRO focused on in the Open Society Foundations campaign Stop Torture in Health Care (2010-2012).

Non-consensual and invasive restrictions on any persons’ ability to make childbearing decisions represent a severe affront to reproductive rights affecting many communities of poor and marginalized persons worldwide.  Often condoned in the name of a public health "rationale" such as population control or prevention of HIV in infants, these practices are in fact carried out on the basis of discriminatory stereotypes such as the inability of certain types of people to be "fit parents".

Responsibility of governments

Among the many populations disproportionately affected are women living with HIV, Roma ("gypsy") women, people with mental health problems or intellectual disabilities, transgender persons, people who use drugs, and indigenous peope. Although sterilization may be carried out by individual health providers, it is ultimately the responsibility of governments to protect everyone from such abuse and to support health providers in realizing reproductive rights. Governments must protect individuals from forced or coerced sterilization and guarantee all people’s right to the information and services they need to exercise full reproductive choice and autonomy.

Case study:

The story of Jane, an HIV-positive mother in Namibia who was sterilized against her will.

Selected resources:

WMA Statement on Forced and Coerced Sterilisation, WMA, 2012

IFHHRO Position Statement on forced and/or coerced sterilisation, IFHHRO, 2011

Fact sheet Against Her Will: Forced and Coerced Sterilization of Women Worldwide, Open Society Foundations, 2011

Guidelines FIGO guidelines on sterilisation of women, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2011

Briefing paper Reproductive Rights Violations as Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: A Critical Human Rights Analysis, Center for Reproductive Rights, 2010

Briefing paper The Right to Contraceptive Information and Services for Women and Adolescents, Center for Reproductive Rights, 2010

Short report Special Health and Law Seminar Sterilization and Medical Professionalism: Human Rights Challenges and Responsibilities, IFHHRO, 2010

Article Sterilisation and informed consentMIMS Women’s Health, vol 4, no 3, 2009

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