Peru. Truth and Justice: It is Estimated that More than 200,000 Women were Sterilized Against their Will in Fujimori Times

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Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / MapuExpress / The Dawn / November 19, 2015-. Figures could exceed 270,000, according to Human Rights organization. Most of the registered cases were of indigenous women.

After months of waiting, a decree was promulgated that allows the registration of victims, an act that was applauded by various human rights organizations, including: Association for the Defence of Women’s Rights (DEMUS), Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Center for Reproductive Rights, Association of Official Human Rights (APRODEH), the Cladem, the National Coordination of Human Rights, the Group for the Restoration to Victims of Forced Sterilization (GREF) and Amnesty International.

Hereunder we transcribe two articles from Amnesty International, and then, some information about these facts, from the Servindi agency.

Amnesty International noted that during the 1990s, over 200,000 indigenous and peasant women were sterilized in Peru as part of a population control policy against people living in poverty.

There are strong indications that medical personnel were forced to meet sterilization quotas and that, in most cases, women did not give their free and informed consent. Women and their families were reportedly threatened with fines, imprisonment or the withdrawal of food aid if they did not submit to the operation. Eighteen of them were killed, and many did not receive adequate postoperative care, which caused them serious health problems. To this day, only 2,074 cases were put under investigation and, except for one, the rest of these cases remain without any judicial answer.

In 2002, a congressional committee determined that the sterilizations had been performed “without the consent of the women” and that the government had been involved in the procedure. Based on these findings, complaints were made against former President Alberto Fujimori and other members of his government.

Throughout the past years, justice has been slow and ineffective. But there is still hope, because a few months ago cases were reopened and, at present, the Public Ministry is investigating the widespread practice of forced sterilization.

To date, there is no official death toll. It is necessary for single register of victims to created, in order to clarify how many women really were victims of forced sterilization. The announcement by the government of Peru for the establishment of a register of victims is a positive step and represents a great hope for the thousands of women who continue to struggle for their rights.

In addition, this could open the door to the developing of a comprehensive policy on reparations, including restitution of their rights, compensation, rehabilitation and access to comprehensive health services, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.

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  • After more than 18 years, the Peruvian government does not have an exact figure on the number of women whose reproductive rights were violated.
  • Amnesty International launches a campaign called ‘Against their will’, to draw attention to the current government’s unfulfilled promise to women affected by sterilization.

Amnesty International has taken the case of forced sterilization during the nineties in Peru as a serious violation of human rights of thousands of women across the country. Both their bodies and their rights were violated against their will, by deception and false information, under the false premise of reducing poverty.

The organization is demanding that the Peruvian government facilitates and grants resources for the design, research and implementation of a single registry of victims of forced sterilization. Also they must ensure the conditions for the affected and identified women, to achieve justice and be are granted with an adequate reparation.

It is for this reason, that the campaign called ´against their will: A single register, thousands of stories’, seeks to motivate citizens of Peru to demand the government truth, justice and reparation, in solidarity with the women who suffered this violation of their rights. This initiative will be supported by various Amnesty International offices in various countries worldwide.

‘Amnesty International considers that it is appalling that after 18 years after the first cases of forced sterilizations were registers, there is still not an accurate record with information on the number of people, mostly women, who across the nation were subjected to this violation of their human rights’ said Marina Navarro, executive director of Amnesty International in Peru.

In her speech on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, in 2012, the President of the Republic referred to this case with the following words: ‘Forced sterilization is one of the most savage forms of violence to a woman, we can not allow that someone decides about her fate and the fate of their children, only women can do it’. For this reason, we believe that, a year from completing his term of government, the President must give prompt attention to the claims of victims.

Forced sterilizations, 18 years of impunity

On May 10, 2015, prosecutors reopened the investigation about the allegations of 2,074 women who report having been forcibly sterilized, so it is up to them to investigate, assess the testimonies of women, and make the decision on whether to continue the case or file it definitely.

A large number of human rights associations welcomed the recent enactment of Supreme Decree (no. 006-2015-JUS) that declares the prioritary attention of the victims of forced sterilization produced between 1995-2001, as a national interest and creates the Registry of Victims.

Amnesty International considers that this research should be carried out effectively and impartially, in order to have all the information about these thousands of cases. There is ample evidence that the medical staff applied this planning program were forced by the former administration authorities, to achieve sterilization and, in most cases, women did not give their free and informed consent.

Most victims were Quechua-speaking indigenous and peasant women whose health was affected, in a chronic and irreversible way, as the result of the surgical procedures that were submitted without being properly informed.

However, there is a bigger problem: the evidence that points that the 2,074 victims, included in the preliminary investigation, represent only a small portion of the total of women affected during those years.

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