October 31, 2011
Peruvian prosecutors have reopened an investigation into evidence that during the 1990-2000 government of Alberto Fujimori thousands of women were forcibly sterilised, a practice that human rights groups say was official state policy and constituted a crime against humanity.
Local NGOs say they have proof that more than 2,000 Peruvian women were forcibly sterilised under Fujimori. But they believe the true number is closer to 200,000. Most of the victims lived in rural areas, were poor and barely educated. The aim of the programme was to reduce poverty by lowering the birth rate among the poor, who at the time accounted for one in two Peruvians, the groups say.
“It was a premeditated development policy because it was done fundamentally in areas of extreme poverty, rural and Andean,” said Francisco Soberon, executive director of Aprodeh, Peru’s leading human rights organisation. It was also racist because it chiefly targeted indigenous Quechua peoples, Mr Soberon said. Alejandra Cardenas of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York said that not since Nazi Germany has a government employed forced sterilisation as an instrument of state policy.
Officials in the Fujimori administration have denied that women were forced to undergo sterilisation; instead they say the women signed consent forms. But activists say the women were deceived or threatened. All investigations were shelved in 2009, but President Ollanta Humala revived the sterilisation cases as a campaign issue before defeating Fujimori’s daughter Keiko in an election for the presidency in June.
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