Canada: Sterilizing Indigenous women without consent is a form of torture

December 11, 2018

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In a report released last week, the United Nations Committee Against Torture officially recognized that sterilizing Indigenous women without consent is a form of torture. The Committee calls on Canada to ensure that all allegations of forced or coerced sterilization are impartially investigated, that the persons responsible are held accountable, and that adequate redress is provided to the victims.

In October 2017, a class action lawsuit was proposed in Saskatchewan representing more than 60 Indigenous women who say they were sterilized without their consent. Most women reported being sterilized in the last 10-15 years, and as recently as 2017. Since then, women in other provinces have reported they too were sterilized without consent in recent years. How widespread this practice is across Canada is unknown.

“Today’s report from the UN affirmed that sterilizing women without consent is intentional, committed by state officials, causes serious harm, and is rooted in discrimination,” said Jackie Hansen, Gender Rights Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada, in a press release issued on 7 December. “This is the very definition of torture, one of the most egregious human rights violations, and it must be stopped now.”

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