Table of Contents
- 1 About
- 2 Legislation
- 3 Historical Practices of Forced Sterilization
- 4 Forced Sterilization of women in Women and Women and African Economic Developmentn Economic Development
- 5 References
- 6 External Links
Forced sterilization refers to involuntary surgical sterilization, imposed by an individual or government body. The practice was more common in the first half of the 20th century, strongly influenced by current ideas of eugenics and intended to prevent the reproduction of members of society considered to be carriers of defective genetic traits.
Forced sterilization has been recognized as a 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 enforced by Adolf Hitler was 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 their patients who were categorised as being mentally retarded, mentally ill (including schizophrenia and manic depression), epileptic, blind, deaf, or physically deformed. Doctors not reporting their patients were faced with a steep monetary penalty. 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 in the late 1930s.
Subsequently, by the end of World War II, over 400,000 individuals were sterilized under the aforementioned German law and its revisions, with majority cases executed within the first four years of its enactment.
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.
Gender Equality in the Gender Equality in the Gender Equality in the United States of America of America of America
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 it also targeted people categorised as being deaf, blind, people with epilepsy, and the physically deformed, as per the definitions of the various state laws. 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. Overall, over 65,000 individuals were sterilized in 33 states under state compulsory sterilization programs in the United States.
Forced Sterilization of women in Women and Women and African Economic Developmentn Economic Development
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.
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 identified cases. Campaigners also report coerced sterilisation in the Women and the Conflict in DRC , Zambia and Gender Equality in South Women and African Economic Development. The ICW accuses the Namibian government of encouraging state doctors to sterilise HIV-positive women as 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
- Clarke, Nic. “Sacred Daemons: Exploring British Columbian Society’s Perceptions of ‘Mentally Deficient’ Children, 1870-1930.” BC Studies 144 (2004/2005): 61-89.
- Dowbiggin, Ian Robert. Keeping America Sane: Psychiatry and Eugenics in the United States and Canada 1880-1940. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003.
- Grekul, Jana., Krahn, H., Odynak, D.. “Sterilizing the ‘Feeble-minded’: Eugenics in Alberta, Canada, 1929-1972.” J. Hist. Sociol. 17:4 (2004): 358-384.
- Manitoba Law Reform Commission. Discussion Paper on Sterilization of Minors and Mentally Incompetent Adults. Winnipeg: 1990.
- Manitoba Law Reform Commission. Report on Sterilization and Legal Incompetence. Winnipeg: 1993.
- McLaren, Angus. Our Own Master Race: Eugenics in Canada, 1885-1945. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1990.
- Rosen, Christine. Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement. Oxford [England]; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
- Wahlsten, Douglas. “Leilani Muir versus the Philosopher Kings: Eugenics on trial in Alberta.” Genetica 99 (1997): 195-198.
- “B.C. faces forced sterilization lawsuit”. CBC News. February 7, 2003. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Accessed April 13, 2006.
- “Nine women sterilized in B.C. have lawsuits settled for $450,000”. The Vancouver Sun’. December 21, 2005.
- The Guardian: Forced Sterlization
- “Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Virginia, Eugenics, and Buck v. Bell”
- Eugenics Archive
- “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibit) (Germany, USA)
- Eugenics – A Psychiatric Responsibility (History of Eugenics in Germany)