View Full Version : Fujimori-era forced sterilization in Peru film spotlight

Magda Hassan
02-20-2012, 09:41 AM
Widespread forced sterilizations during the government of Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori, supposedly in the name of progress, are at the center of an explosive new documentary out this week.
"They tied me up, and they cut me here," said an emotional Micaela Flores, pointing to her belly, in the film "Paulina's scar" by Manuel Legarda.She was one of thousands of women who were subject to forcedsterilization during his second term in office which began in 1996.In 1996, Fujimori's government started a reproductive health andfamily planning program that included tubal ligation operations that were supposed to be voluntary. Fujimori was convinced this would bring down the birth rate and help economic development.But in time, reports started emerging that many authorities were skipping the consent part and forcing women to undergosterilization -- especially poor, rural, less educated and disproportionately indigenous Andean women.Many women were threatened, tricked into undergoing the surgery and sometimes offered food in exchange for permanent sterilization. And some authorities were carrying out sterilizations in unclean, substandard conditions, victims charge.According to official data 300,000 women underwent surgery under the program. More than 2,000 have filed official complaints and 18 died during of after the procedures."The doctors would go to people's homes and tell women that they had to use birth control, that the president was going to take care of them, give them a monthly food subsidy, or pay for their education. If they said no, they were threatened and sometimes even kidnapped," said Andean parliament lawmaker Hilaria Supa, one of those interviewed for the documentary."In Mollepata (southeastern Peru) doctors tied up ten women in a local medical clinic in a slum and would not let them leave until they had undergone the procedure," said Supa, who noted that thefamily planning program had the financial backing "of the World Bank, United States and Japan."Supa said that some women were anesthetized "only to wake up with scars on their bellies and they did not know what had happened to them."Flores told her story, noting that she was working on her farm when a nurse came and picked her up and told her she had to go for a local clinic for a checkup."They put me in a room with the other women. I heard one woman screaming a lot. They cut into her without putting her under. And then she passed out," Flores said. "I tried to escape but the door was padlocked shut," said Flores who was 38 at the time and a mother of six.She went on to say doctors grabbed her and took her to another room for surgery. "I told them: I did not want an operation, that then I would not be good for anything. But they kept saying: it's nothing and knocked me down" and proceeded to sterilize me, Flores added.Max Cardenas, who was the head of the national Doctors' Association at the time, said "the doctors who refused were either threatened or were fired. People were given sterilization target numbers, and people who met the quota got bonuses and people who did not, were pressured to do more."Doctors often had no formal consent from patients. And consent forms often were not filled out or were distributed in Spanish -- to women who spoke only indigenous Quechua or Aymara languages -- and sometimes were illiterate, the witnesses said.Then health minister and now lawmaker Alejandro Aguinaga rejects the charges of widespread abuse. He insists that any abuses were minor, and not due to following orders from higher-ups."If there were mistakes, we don't deny that, there were some mistakes in isolated cases... but they are fewer than 100 cases," he told local media recently.Fujimori, who was president from 1990-2000, is serving a 25-year sentence for his role in crimes committed by an army death squad during his time in office.He fled to his parents' native Japan in the final days of his presidency in the midst of a massive corruption scandal, and then resigned via fax from a Tokyo hotel in late 2000.Japan subsequently granted citizenship to him, and Lima spent years unsuccessfully trying to convince Tokyo to extradite Fujimori to face corruption and human rights charges.After extensive legal wrangling, Chile extradited Fujimori to Peru to face charges in September 2007.

http://news.yahoo.com/fujimori-era-forced-sterilization-peru-film-spotlight-223836470.html (http://news.yahoo.com/fujimori-era-forced-sterilization-peru-film-spotlight-223836470.html)

Jan Klimkowski
02-20-2012, 06:27 PM
Magda - I was told of these forced sterilizations in Peru in the mid-90s when we were making the BBC Horizon documentary The Human Laboratory.

Ultimately, we filmed in Haiti and Bangladesh, because we had some hugely courageous contacts there.

Including the indefatigable Nasreen Huq, who was later killed when a truck smashed her into a wall.

This was most likely an act of vengeful murder against a whistleblower.

Fujimori's grossly abusive use of sterilization is entirely analogous to that shown to the world in the Human Laboratory film.

See DPF thread here (https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?620-BBC-Human-Laboratory-transcript).