No justicia para las mujeres

I found this article after one of my Peruvian friends on Facebook reacted angrily to a post that had a link to the text, and what struck me outright was the actual longevity of eugenic sterilization, which had survived and was indeed very active into the late 1990s. What I find disturbing is the denial that this campaign ever occurred, as well as the laughable excuse that these coerced operations were the deeds of individual physicians who did not abide by protocols, so the operations were ‘’isolated cases’’. I can’t help but ask myself how can more than 300 000 people be sterilized over the course of 4 years, if no nationwide incentive was present, and how can only 5 physicians be held responsible for such an enormous number of surgeries over the course of 4 years: did a single surgeon perform 15 000 sterilizations a year?

I have always been interested in the intersectional treatment of people and how mysteriously the role of the government is never called into question. Given president Alberto Fujimori’s turbulent past, his coming into power (which included an auto-coup and assumption of complete judicial and legislative powers) and his 25-year sentence due to human rights violation, how can charges against him be dropped without a further investigation and the claims of so many be dismissed?

As I read several other articles connected to the topic, I came across Fujimori’s statement upon prosecution that he ‘’deserved credit from saving Peru from anarchy’’1, but was he not encouraging therapeutic nihilism by ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and prompting them to reject the advances of Western medicine?

There are a lot of questions that arise, and I believe they all connect to the idea that the possession of power grants isolation from law, and that sadly there is no safe place in the world for impoverished indigenous people, as their segregation from political life and their denied social voice are cunning repressions by institutions. Another very striking connection is the fact that the people coerced into sterilization were threatened by the payment of taxes for having very large families, so it appears that they were held responsible for being poor and not being able to provide for their children. This links to our unit on eugenics because it reiterates the idea that it is not the socially induced conditions that lead to fertility and failure to provide for children, but the impoverished people’s fault for being unjustly treated in the first place.

A question which arises is why was sterilization sought after, and the answer I have so far been able to identify, is that a growth in a highly impoverished part of the population is unwanted. This is probably because the sterilized ‘’already got an army’’, raising concerns of race suicide. Furthermore, the refusal to hold government officials responsible might be due to the fact that, should the case be settled in favor of the Peruvian women, huge reparations will be needed, so in the end of the day, the in the hugely ethical world today everything is far more economic than humane.

And yet, why are we so silent about the past and its haunting ghost today? Is it because of our apparent conviction that death only happens to others? I feel that the lack of an institutional voice to represent the struggles of the oppressed is very relevant to the current political situation worldwide, and that an even larger outcry is needed in order to raise awareness. But as it appears for this case, Peruvian women are not likely to receive the justice they deserve, as it is supposed to close by the end of the year, and up to now there are no updates on court decisions.


2 thoughts on “No justicia para las mujeres”

  1. I feel that oppressors, or any institution with abusive practices, want to “move forward” yet not truly allow those who have been afflicted that same pathway or opportunity. In this case, we have a system that worked in favor of someone who committed mass eugenic sterilization. Throughout history, we’ve seen this time and time again; institutions allow these things to happen and allow these injustices to be forgotten. Rather, these oppressive governments want their abusive practices to be forgotten; there’s power in remembrance and acknowledgement, which is why there is an agenda that serves to hide or ignore the existence of abusive practices. This makes me question a future where we hold those in power accountable and acknowledge all of the wrongdoings–do we think that would change societal systems? If so, how?

  2. Kalina, what a relevant post! I really appreciate all of the outraged questions you raise. I think Victoria’s onto something here that Aurora Levins Morales would agree with, namely, the role of forgetting and the ways in which historical amnesia is also a structural and not merely an individual issue. Take the destruction of archives for example. In 1890, after the abolition of slavery in Brazil, the Minister of Finance ordered all “papers, registry books, and documents that relate to slavery that exist in all divisions of the Ministry of Finance” burned. This is precisely why, as Victoria points out, “remembrance and acknowledgment” is so incredibly powerful and serves as a form of resistance that touches the past, present, and future at once.

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