8.16.2007

The Sterilization of Latin and Indigenous Women


- Much respect goes to the "Friends of Peltier" for the following blog, which I have reposted:

Latina and Indigenous Women & Children at Risk:The Forced Sterilization of Latina and Indigenous Women and Youth in Canada, the United States and Across Latin America

An Overview
The intentional use of non-consensual sexual sterilization has been a tool for controlling indigenous and Latin American women for many decades. Many of these violations of a woman or girl's right to self- determination are only coming to light now.

Within Latin America, Peru and Mexico are examples of countries where sterilization targeting indigenous women and youth has continued to be used in recent years. Mexico continues this practice today. Sterilization is often accompanied by threats from medical doctors just before childbirth. These doctors lie about the irreversibility of the procedure, or they psychologically force vulnerable female patients to permanently give up their life-long right to have children.
Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, has the highest percentage of sterilized women in the entire world.

The racist anti-Latina and anti-indigenous nature of such forced sterilization is more than obvious.
Forced Sterilization in the Americas
An overview of the effects of forced sterilization policies across the Americas
Between 1965-71, an estimated 1 million women in Brazil had been sterilized [45]. In Puerto Rico, 34% of all women of child-bearing age had been sterilized by 1965 [46]. Between 1963-65, more than 40,000 women in Colombia had been sterilized [47]...
"Lee Brightman, United Native Americans President, estimates that of the Native population of 800,000 (in the US), as many as 42% of the women of childbearing age and 10% of the men...have been sterilized... The first official inquiry into the sterilization of Native women...by Dr. Connie Uri...reported that 25,000 Indian women had been permanently sterilized within Indian Health Services facilities alone through 1975...
"According to a 1970 fertilization study, 20% of married Black women had been sterilized, almost three times the percentage of white married women. There was a 180% rise in the number of sterilizations performed during 1972-73 in New York City municipal hospitals which serve predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhoods" [48].
Similar results were found in Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories. Clearly, "overpopulation" is not an issue in North America, nor is it in South or Central America.
Canada...
In 1928 Alberta passed legislation allowing school officials to forcibly sterilize Native girls; British Columbia followed suit in 1933. There is no accurate toll of forced sterilizations because hospital staff destroyed records in 1995 after police launched an investigation. But according to the testimony of a nurse in Alberta, doctors sterilized entire groups of Native children when they reached puberty.
The United States
"In the 1970s, it is estimated that 30% of all Puerto Rican women, and 25-40% of American Indian women were sterilized without their informed consent - American Friends Service Committee [This was done by the U.S. Indian Health Service and other agencies.]
Indigenous Women within the United States
(1977) A... Government Accounting Office (GAO) study commissioned by Senator James Abourezk of South Dakota, discovered that more than 3400 Native American women of childbearing age had been sterilized over a three year period in four different Indian Health Service areas in the Southwest.21 This figure is particularly frightening given the declining population of Native Americans--today there are fewer than 800,000 in this country. It would be comparable to sterilizing 452,000 non-white women in the U.S. The study also found that many of the consent forms to be illegal and not in compliance with Indian Health Service regulations. It also found that 36 women under the age of 21 and been sterilized, despite the court ordered moratorium on such sterilizations.
Latina women in the United States
Luz Alvarez Martinez, co-founder of the National Latina Health Organization, says that sterilization abuse is also a major problem for Latinas. She points out that government funding is scarce for abortions but plentiful for sterilization and that, "We are not given adequate information so that we can give truly `informed consent' for medical procedures that affect our reproductive choices." She cites the case of Chicanas sterilized without their knowledge in Los Angeles county, and the fact that in New York Latinas have a sterilization rate seven times higher than white women and almost twice that of Black women. From: "Organizing Women
Puerto Rico
About the history of forced sterilization in Puerto Rico. ...Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias states that population control was indeed a social policy in [Puerto Rico] that targeted a group that was believed "shouldn’t have children" by other groups (Garcia 1985). According to one interview, each and every female in one extended family had been sterilized. The elder woman wept, saying that the family would end with no more women able to have children (Garcia 1985).
Indigenous Women in Bolivia
Le Sang du Condor (Blood of the Condor)(1994, 80 min.) (Video F 2230. 2. K4 S26) In Spanish and Quechua with French subtitles.
A dramatization of an actual incident which involved charges of sterilization of Quechuan Indian women without their consent as part of a birth control program administered by the United States Peace Corps.
Indigenous Women in Brazil
At least eighty indigenous women of the Pataxuh-he band in the Brazilian state of Bahia have been sterilized by Ronald Lavigne, who is a medical doctor as well as a politician. Lavigne offers sterilization to women (who cannot get other types of birth control) every time he runs for office. Some women have complained after the fact that the finality of tube-tying was not explained to them. Lamb reports that many of the operations were undertaken on women desperate to reduce the size of their families because many children in the area die of malnutrition. "This is genocide," Lamb reported Roberto Liebgott, an activist with native peoples in Bahia, to have said. In some villages, every woman of child-bearing age has been sterilized, leading to the probable demise of entire peoples in a generation or two.
Indigenous Women in Mexico
...These cases from [the Mexican state of] Guerrero come amid increasing allegations of a pattern of abuse across Mexico. Human rights groups cite evidence that uni-lingual [non-Spanish-speaking] Indians are being targeted by government sterilization brigades in several states.
Recent reports include women given tubal ligations without their knowledge following Caesarean sections; women being paid with a kilo of beans or tomatoes for sterilization procedures they don't nderstand; and a woman who couldn't conceive because an IUD (intrauterine device) had been implanted in her womb without her knowledge and was embedded in her flesh.
Certainly there is a push to sterilize people in Guerrero, where one-seventh of the state's 3,000,000 people is pure Indian...
More on Indigenous Women in Mexico
...In Omaha, Nebraska, medical personnel at local clinics caring for an influx of Mexican and other Latin American immigrants say that many women come to them complaining of having trouble getting pregnant. The Omaha care-givers are left to tell the women, many of whom are of Mexican Indian ancestry, that they have been sterilized or implanted with IUDs by Mexican doctors. Most of the women express surprise at this, to put it mildly, indicating that any form of consent they may have been given was not comprehended.Peru
July, 2002 - Peru's Government Apologizes for the forced sterilization of 200,000 Indigenous Women in the late 1990's. A number of public health doctors in Peru (who perform sterilizations of indigenous women) also engaged in sexual assaults on their patients before charges against the Peruvian state were brought to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.
Silence and Complicity - Indigenous and other poor women and girls in Peru face rape and other abuses from Peru's public health service doctors.
Victory For Women In Peru - Peru settles the case of Marina Machaca before action by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. Marina Machaca, a 19-year old [indigenous] girl, was raped by Doctor Gerardo Salmón Horna, a doctor with the public hospital Carlos Monge Medrano in Juliaca, Peru...
PAZ!

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