Ending Sterilisation of Women and Girls with Disabilities

Welcoming words

I am appalled by the fact that forced sterilisation of women and girls continues to happen and that we need to hold this hearing today.

I care very much about this issue because as a feminist, I find it outrageous that such blatant violations of women’s rights occur in the healthcare sector today. This sector continues to be largely male-dominated and perpetrates widespread violations of human dignity. I think this issue relates very much to the forced surgeries intersex children undergo. Many people continue to justify such practices as the victims’ “best interest”. As feminists and human rights activists, it is our duty to say that it is absolutely in the worst interest of a person to modify their body irreversibly without their consent.

This is 100% a feminist issue because it shows that society prefers to forcibly sterilise women rather than provide for adequate services to support women with disabilities in their decision to become parents or to take appropriate measures against rape and sexual abuse.

This is also an issue that absolutely requires adopting an intersectional approach. Not only do these women find themselves to be subject of discriminations because of the gender and their disability, sterilisation of women and girls is also a racist issue. Many victims of this unacceptable practice are Roma women, either disabled or not.

Our governments’ failure to address this situation is appalling and even more so taking into account that it affects some of the most vulnerable members of our societies. This failure takes place in a context of widespread disrespect of women and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe and legal abortion and to appropriate contraception, to menstrual sanitary products and to adequate treatment of sexual diseases.

The general tendency to crackdown against women’s rights gives us all the more responsibility to speak out against these unacceptable violations of human dignity.