Forced Sterilisations: A Path to Justice

Between 1996 and 2000, there have been numerous reports of forced sterilizations undertaken in Peru, which at the time was under the tutelage of President Alberto Fujimori’s government. While generally being lauded for defeating the Communist insurgency and restoring economic stability to the country, Fujimori had to flee to Japan before the finale of his term as a result of accusations of corruption and human rights violations. One of such accusations is explored in this documentary: namely, that his cabinet proposedly ordered forced sterilizations to be carried out on specially targeted populations.

 

The documentary explores both sides of the argument, with numerous interviewed victims and their lawyers seeking a fair settlement of the prejudice that had been brought upon them, while on the other side of the barricade, government officials deny any political implication and blame the doctors, who supposedly carried out the operations out of a will to earn more money. However, testimonials from the victims and the doctors involved or invited to participate in this scheme convincingly showcase that this could not have been a mere coincidence, and is likely to have been part of a process engineered at the highest political levels.

 

The film offers a number of different perspectives, exploring both the process by which some 314600 women and 24580 men were sterilized and the outcomes of all manners: personal, health-related and socio-economic. Some of the women involved suffered from infections and complications due to the surgery, combined with the fact that they received no medical attention after what had been described as ‘a minor operation’. Others were left by their husbands, while some found it difficult to get employed or retain respect in their communities. It is a notable fact that most of the women were Quechua speakers, while their briefing sessions took place in Spanish, a language that many of them did not understand. Even if they did, the fact that they mostly came from uneducated communities meant that most were illiterate, incapable of giving consent through signature.

 

'Forced Sterilisations' is a good documentary short film that exposes a truth that has been ignored for more than a decade now, with efforts still being made to minimize numbers involved and present facts as a mere coincidence. The cases it presents are sufficiently varied both in content and perspective to keep matters interesting and always add new bits and pieces of information to the mix, while the direction and cinematography are adequate within the context. The film should ideally get the exposure it deserves, and – we hope – provide a stepping stone to delivering justice to the victims of forced sterilizations in Peru.

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