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Fact Sheet on Sterilization Campaigns around the World

Congressional Briefing
February 23, 1998

  • Sterilization campaigns are one of the common features of the population control movement and have been used in at least 24 countries around the world.
  • All these campaigns have, to a greater or lesser extent, used coercion to reach sterilization targets, even though the practice of using targets or setting goals has been condemned by international agreement.
  • A common feature of these campaigns is an unwillingness to provide informed consent or, in incidences like Brazil’s, to obtain consent at all.
  • In many instances the medical staff and workers who take part in the campaign in a local area are not from that area but are assembled and brought in from elsewhere.
  • These campaigns often use some form of payment or prize to induce workers to bring in more women to be sterilized. In India, for example, the inducements were often popular electrical appliances. In Peru, food seems to have been an inducement.
  • Because the sterilization staff is not trained obstetricians and gynecologists, and because the surgeries are often performed rapidly in very unhygienic conditions, the numbers of women dying or suffering permanent injury in these campaigns is often high.
  • Postoperative care is patchy and often insufficient in most of these campaigns.

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