270k forcibly sterilized women in Peru get day in court

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Women and men from Quechua indigenous communities and low-income families of the Andean country were sterilized between 1996 and 2001, according to information provided by Peru’s Ministry of Health when it announced a case that is now reaching the courts for the first time.

Peruvian prosecutors say it was all part of former President Alberto Fujimori’s family planning program. Despite three previous investigations that were closed for lack of evidence, he and his cabinet are accused of developing and forcibly implementing a sterilization program.

Officially, the state birth control program –  known as Voluntary Surgical Contraception  – was instituted to combat poverty by reducing birth rates in resource-poor sectors, so says Fujimori-government documents. The procedures were performed with the consent of patients, according to literature about the program as it was presented to the Peruvian public at that time.

Not so, charge thousands who claim they were forcibly or unknowingly sterilized. Others claim they were blackmailed, deceived, or harassed into letting themselves undergo the tubal ligation procedures. The Association of Peruvian Women Affected by Forced Sterilizations has compiled testimonies to present their case and now, courts will hear the evidence to consider whether they can proceed in their claims and seek compensation.

By Milan Sime Martinic