[ Citation needed ]
AboutForced sterilization refers to involuntary surgical sterilization, imposed by an individual or government body. The practice
Forced sterilization has been recognized as crime against humanity by the Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum if the act is widespread or systematically practiced. If it the practice fullfills either of this criterium, the acts fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
Historical Practices of Forced Sterilization
One of the first acts by Adolf Hitler was to pass the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring (Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses) in July 1933. Under the German law, all doctors in the Reich were required to report patients of theirs who were mentally retarded, mentally ill (including schizophrenia and manic depression), epileptic, blind, deaf, or physically deformed, and a steep monetary penalty was imposed to doctors not reporting on their patients. Individuals suffering from alcoholism or Huntington's Chorea could also be sterilized. The individual's case was then presented in front of a court of Nazi officials and public health officers who would review their medical records, take testimony from friends and colleagues, and eventually decide whether or not to order a sterilization operation performed on the individual, using force if necessary. Though not explicitly covered by the law, 400 mixed-race "Rhineland Bastards" were also sterilized beginning in 1937. [ Citation needed ]
By the end of World War II, over 400,000 individuals were sterilized under the German law and its revisions, most within its first four years of being enacted.
The eugenistic legislation was enacted in 1934 and formally abolished in 1976. According to the 2000 governmental report, 21,000 persons were estimated to have been forcibly sterilized, 6,000 were coerced into a 'voluntary' sterilization while the nature of a further 4,000 cases could not be determined. The Swedish state subsequently paid out damages to many of the victims. The program was meant primarily to prevent mental illness and disease.
The United States was the first country to concertedly undertake compulsory sterilization programs for the purpose of eugenics. The principal targets of the American program were the mentally retarded and the mentally ill, but also targeted under many state laws were the deaf, the blind, people with epilepsy, and the physically deformed. Native Americans, as well as African-American women, were sterilized against their will in many states, often without their knowledge, while they were in a hospital for other reasons. Some sterilizations also took place in prisons and other penal institutions, targeting criminality, but these numbers are not very important. In the end, over 65,000 individuals were sterilized in 33 states under state compulsory sterilization programs in the United States.
Forced Sterilization of women in Africa
Women in Africa have been sterilised without their consent after being told the procedure is a routine treatment for AIDS, according to a lawsuit launched in June 2009. [ Citation needed ]
Forty HIV-positive women in Namibia have been made infertile against their will, according to the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW). The group is preparing to sue the Namibian government over at least 15 cases. Campaigners also report coerced sterilisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and South Africa. The ICW accuses the Namibian government of encouraging state doctors to sterilise HIV-positive women as a means of preventing the spread of the virus.
- As quoted by Guy Horton in Dying Alive - A Legal Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Burma April 2005, co-Funded by The Netherlands Ministry for Development Co-Operation. See section "12.52 Crimes against humanity", Page 201. He references RSICC/C, Vol. 1 p. 360
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- Dowbiggin, Ian Robert. Keeping America Sane: Psychiatry and Eugenics in the United States and Canada 1880-1940. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003.
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- The Guardian: Forced Sterlization
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- Eugenics Archive
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- Eugenics - A Psychiatric Responsibility (History of Eugenics in Germany)