Mexico compensates indigenous men for forced sterilizations

Mexico compensates indigenous men for forced sterilizations

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John Ahni Schertow
July 2, 2008
 

Authorities in Guerrero, Mexico “have agreed to pay 490,000 pesos (US$48,000) in compensation to 14 indigenous men coerced into having vasectomies,” reports Bill Weinberg of the WW4Report.

The men will each be paid 35,000 pesos (US$3,400) and given water storage tanks and cement to build homes, said state health secretary Luis Barrera Rios. The men agreed to the deal, despite initial demands of 200,000 pesos (US$19,000) each.

The men, represented by the Tlachinollan Center for Human Rights, say that state health workers showed up in the village of El Camalote in 1998 and demanded that men with more than four children have vasectomies. The plaintiffs said they were promised a clinic, medicine, clothes, scholarships for their children and new homes for submitting to the procedure—while those who refused were threatened with removal from government aid programs. The claims were investigated by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

The government earlier refused to pay compensation, saying the men signed consent forms and denying that they had been offered any benefits. After an investigation, the CNDH called on the Guerrero government to compensate the men, finding that health officials made no effort to counsel them on the implications of vasectomies or on alternative birth control methods. (AP, June 26)

Last October, a regional court in the Czech Republic made a similar ruling for a Romani woman. Bill Weinberg also reported on this story.

On Oct. 12, the Regional Court in Ostrava, Czech Republic, awarded compensation of CZK500,000 (US$260,000) to a Romani woman, Iveta Cervenakova, 30, for having been sterilized against her will. Ostrava City Hospital is to pay the damages. According to Kumar Vishwanathan of the Vzajemne Souziti (Life Together) civic association, this is the Czech Republic’s first case of compensation for coerced sterilization. Holubová was sterilized 10 years ago. “She was not sufficiently informed and did not even learn she had had such surgery until seven years later,” Vishwanathan said. The hospital claims it has Cervenakova’s written consent on file and is considering appealing. (Romea.cz, Oct. 12)

Both Mexico and the Czech Republic are among a group of more than a dozen states that have actively sterilized men and women without their knowledge or consent. Other states include China, Canada, America, Peru, Australia, Colombia, Bolivia, Norway, India, Panama, Finland, Estonia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Iceland and Sweden. Few if any of these states have apologized or given reparations to the victims or their families.

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