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Peruvian Sterilization Campaign to Continue; Population Group Condemns USAID Impotence

Peruvian Sterilization Campaign to Continue;

Population Group Condemns USAID Impotence

For Immediate Release

February 27, 1998

Contact Scott Weinberg

(540) 622-5240

FALLS CHURCH, VA – Steven W. Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute (PRI) today condemned the Peruvian government for announcing, despite recent US Agency for International Development assurances to the contrary, that it would continue its massive sterilization campaign. “In the past year, over 100,000 Peruvian women were sterilized, often under duress,” Mosher said. “The announcement by the Peruvian Minister of Health, Mr. Costa Bauer, that the sterilization campaign will be expanded means that many more women will suffer in the year to come. It also calls into serious question USAID’s ability, if not its credibility, when it comes to monitoring and correcting abuses in U.S.-supported family planning programs.”

PRI researcher David Morrison, during a January visit to Peru, uncovered evidence of tubal ligations performed without consent, without informed consent, and in unsanitary conditions by unqualified personnel. He also uncovered evidence that the government was setting targets for sterilizations, and assigning quotas of women to be sterilized to individual doctors. Morrison’s testimony, released during a February 24, 1998, media event at the National Press Club, was further bolstered by the presence of three witnesses from Peru, who spoke convincingly on sterilization quotas and coercion in Peru. The witnesses, Dr. Hector Chuchon, Mrs. Avelina Nolberto, and Mrs. Victoria Espinoza, testified again on February 25, 1998, before the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights of the Committee on International Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the face of this pressure, USAID Asst. Administrator Mark Schneider announced at that congressional hearing that the government of Peru was abandoning its mass sterilization campaign, abolishing the quota system for tubal ligations, and implementing other reforms.

Schneider’s statement was immediately contradicted by the Peruvian government. In an interview in El Comercio published on February 27, Minister of Health Costa Bauer denied USAID’s statement and affirmed that the Peruvian government had every intention of continuing its mass sterilization campaign. “Our objective is to deepen, improve, and extend the family planning program to all Peruvians,” said Costa Bauer. No mention was made of abandoning targets and quotas, or of the other reforms promised by Schneider.

“USAID’s impotence to end Peru’s mass sterilization campaign has been demonstrated in a very dramatic way,” Mosher said. “We believe that all U.S. aid to Peru’s family planning program-and to other family planning programs in which human rights violations have been reported-should be ended until it is clear that these abuses have stopped.

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