From Iceland — The New York Times Report On Forced Sterilisations Of Disabled Women In Iceland

The New York Times Report On Forced Sterilisations Of Disabled Women In Iceland

Published November 27, 2023

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The New York Times published an investigative report on November 25 on the practice of forced sterilisation of disabled women across Europe. The report specifically focuses on the stories of Icelandic women who have undergone sterilisation at teh request of their caretakers, despite questions around their ability to consent.

Under the Istanbul Convention, nonconsensual sterilisation is defined as a human rights offence. The European Union and 36 other European states are party to the treaty, which Iceland ratified in 2018.

Among the conclusions the NYT investigation uncovered was the ongoing implementation of forced sterilisation on disabled women. Despite bans, the article reports that over a third of countries which have ratified the Istanbul Convention often make exceptions — even in cases not deemed medically necessary.

In Iceland, forced tubal litigations are banned, but hysterectomies fall outside the Istanbul Convention and are still performed. No official statistics exist on the number of these procedures in Iceland.

Oftentimes, sterilisation is executed for the convenience of family and other caregivers. Among the respondents in the NYT article is a woman with Downs syndrome, a former social worker at the National Hospital, and a parent who authorised her daughter’s hysterectomy.

Read the full report here.

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