The Quipu Project is an interactive transmedia platform that documents testimonies of women and men forced or coerced into sterilization in Peru in the mid-1990s.
“They put me on a bed and four of them held me. Two held my hands and two held my legs, so they could give me the shot, then I don’t remember,” recounts one of the victims. “They kept us imprisoned, they closed the gates and when we saw how other ladies were crying with pain, we wanted to leave but they wouldn’t let us go out,” adds another woman. “They forced us, because we were powerless, they forced us to get sterilized,” says yet another victim.
In 1995, the Peruvian government, led by recently pardoned then-President Alberto Fujimori, introduced a Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program, offering “voluntary surgical contraception.” Under a veneer of progressiveness, the program aimed at reducing poverty rates through conducting mass sterilizations primarily among indigenous communities, perceived as an obstacle to country’s economic growth.
Over a span of four year, some 270,000 women and about 20,000 men underwent the surgery, many without giving prior consent. As the program targeted mostly poor, illiterate, Quechua-speaking women living in remote areas of the country, the government did not expect resistance or backlash. Instead, more than 2,000 indigenous women came forward seeking justice.
In 2015, the incumbent Ollanta Humala launched the REVIESFO registry (Registro de Víctimas de Esterilizaciones Forzadas), but the investigation has not moved forward ever since.
Listen to the testimonies gathered by the Quipu Project here.
Photo by André Mellagi.