Girls Continue To Be Illegally Sterilized, Official Claims
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 18, 2003
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA--Two years after a government report revealed that a considerable number of young women and girls with "intellectual disabilities" were being sterilized illegally, Victoria's Public Advocate says the practice is continuing within his state.
Julian Gardner told The Age news service that it is impossible to know how widespread the problem is, but that many parents, guardians and doctors have told him about recent surgeries that were conducted illegally to make girls sterile.
"This is a matter of grave concern, because fundamental human rights are at stake," Gardner said. "Sterilization is irreversible and therefore should only be done with proper safeguards."
Gardner is calling for a change in the system under which such procedures are authorized.
A federal official said that for the last two years the Commonwealth has been exploring ways to implement a consistent nation-wide approach, but that none has yet been developed.
A government report in April 2001 showed that human rights protections regarding sterilizations -- which had been put in place nearly a decade earlier -- were largely being ignored. Researchers also found that different authorities had different ways to count the numbers of those sterilized between 1992 and 2001. Some put the numbers at over one thousand, while others estimated the total at a few dozen.
The report noted that those who had gone through the legal steps to have sterilizations performed had them done on girls between age 10 and 18, with nearly half being 14 years of age or younger. All of the procedures had been hysterectomies rather than less invasive tubal ligations.
"Doctors 'illegally sterilizing disabled girls'" (The Age)
April 2001: The Sterilization of Girls and Young Women in Australia