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Peru to reopen probe into forced sterilization of women

October 28, 2011 |  5:35 pm



REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- It remains one of the most insidious abuses allegedly committed by Peruvian authorities in the 1990s: the forced or uninformed sterilization of thousands of poor women, mostly from the rural highlands.

This week, the 3-month-old government of President Ollanta Humala agreed to reopen an investigation into the case, after previous administrations essentially shelved it (link in Spanish).

Humala's government informed the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the decision. The regional body has been pressuring Peruvian authorities for action for years, working on behalf of the family of Maria Mamerita Mestanza, who died in 1998 after a compulsory tubal-ligation operation.

The sterilizations took place under the government of disgraced President Alberto Fujimori as part of what was described at the time as an effort to reduce poverty. The sterilizations reemerged as a campaign issue this year when Fujimori's daughter Keiko ran for president. She was defeated by Humala.


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-- Tracy Wilkinson

Photo: Peruvian women symbolically plant seeds as part of the Day of the Rural Woman in front of the presidential palace in Lima on Oct. 14, 2011. Credit: AFP/Getty Images