Giving voice

Peruvian women talk about their forced sterilizations in new oral history project

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Women, with their bodies painted hold signs reading: "2,074 women were sterilized without their consent by the government of Fujimori" during a protest near the Attorney General's Office in Lima, November 18, 2015. (REUTERS/Mariana Bazo)

Of the roughly 300,000 Peruvians who were forced to undergo sterilization in the 1990s, more than 100 have already contributed their stories to the Quipu project — a new interactive oral history that documents their experiences.

“We’re not giving them a voice. They have a really powerful voice and their stories to tell…This is a tool for them to make their stories heard in the whole world, hopefully,” project co-director and executive producer Maria Court told the Guardian.

Victims can record their stories on a free voice messaging service, the soundbites are then shared on the Quipu project website in Spanish, English, and the native Quechua that many of the victims speak. Listeners can record their responses to the stories as well.

For a decade under the guise of a government family planning program, hundreds of thousands of women and men were forced to undergo sterilization in Peru. Former president Alberto Fujimori, now imprisoned for corruption and human rights violations, claimed the procedure was voluntary, but many of the poor, indigenous people targeted by the policy say they were told they wouldn’t receive food and other government support if they did not consent. Many say they still suffer pain from the operations, which were often poorly performed and in unsanitary conditions.

“I [still] don’t have my full strength,” one survivor told the Guardian 18 years after the procedure.

The Quipu project’s organizers want to launch a national radio campaign to invite as many people to share their stories as possible.

Read the full story at the Guardian.

Related:

Peru tries to right the horrors of forced sterilization with national victims registry

“A nurse put me on a stretcher and tied my hands and feet”

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