Ending forced sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities

Posted by Maria Codina on November 7, 2018 at 10:46 am

The European Disability Forum (EDF) and CERMI Women’s Foundation have released a comprehensive report which raises awareness on how to prevent and end forced sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities. It explains the justifications given for forced sterilisation and the negative consequences of forced sterilisation on the enjoyment of all human rights for all women and girls with disabilities. It highlights the close relationship between this practice and the deprivation of legal capacity, and describes the current situation in Europe and beyond. Finally, it gives an overview of the current human rights standards and jurisprudence on the topic.

What is Sterilisation?

The term ‘sterilisation’ is defined for the purpose of this report as “a process or act that renders an individual permanently incapable of sexual reproduction”. ‘Forced sterilisation’ refers to when this procedure is undertaken without the knowledge, consent or authorisation of the person who is subjected to the practice, and when it takes place without there being a serious threat or risk to health or life.


Forced sterilisation constitutes a crime based on the definition of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).
Forced sterilisation is carried out on (or, rather, perpetrated against) many persons with disabilities, especially women and girls with disabilities, and mainly women and girls with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. It violates and disregards their most fundamental rights: freedom, respect and personal integrity. In particular, girls and adolescents with disabilities face a greater risk of undergoing this forced practice. Sterilisation is an issue that must be addressed during adult life and not childhood.

What is the impact of sterilisation on woman and girls with disabilities? 

Sterilisation represents a life sentence, a loss and a betrayal for women and girls with disabilities. It can also cause serious health consequences. Forced sterilisation forms part of a wider paternalistic model and patriarchal system in which women with disabilities are denied their human and reproductive rights. This includes exclusion from suitable healthcare for reproductive health and sexual health screening programmes, restrictions in choice of contraceptive type, a tendency to suppress menstruation, shortcomings in pregnancy and birth management, selective or forced abortions and denial of the right to have a family life.


Read the full document by using this link.

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