Victims of US eugenics program seek compensation

Up until the 1970s, up to 60,000 women particularly from non-White communities were subjected to forced sterilizations in the US.

Victims of US eugenics program seek compensation

World Bulletin / News Desk

The US is preparing to compensate thousands of women who were illegally sterilized in a eugenics program that was in place in the country until the 1970s.

It is believed that as many as 60,000 Americans were sterilized between 1907 and 1979 for being deemed as ‘morons’, ‘unfit’ and ‘feebleminded’ by the state in order to prevent the birth of mentally disabled and criminal children. Some of the girls subjected to this program were as young as 10-years-old.

One woman by the name of Elaine Riddick was only 13-years-old after she was sterilized without her knowledge after giving birth after being raped. Her grandmother, who was illiterate, was tricked into signing her consent for the procedure. Riddick only discovered what had happened to her when she was 19.

"Nobody should go into a woman's body and invade it like that," Riddick told Al Jazeera.

It is also believed that this program was disproportionately applied to women from non-White communities. April Callen, communications director for Center for New Community, told Al Jazeera "Since this country has historically operated under a white Eurocentric capitalist patriarchal rule, it makes 'sense' that women of color would be seen as the least able to know what is best for their bodies and exercise those rights."

Despite lawmakers in states like North Carolina and Virginia offering to pay compensation to the victims of this program, other studies have found that the program is still practiced in California. ‘Justice Now’, a rights group, found that 116 female prisoners had been sterilized without their permission between 2006 and 2010.

Commenting on the ethnic-based nature of these sterilizations, Elena Gutiérrez, an associate professor of Gender and Women's Studies & Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said "The ideologies and beliefs that women of color should not reproduce are alive and well in our society."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Ocak 2014, 17:33