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Sunday, December 20, 1998 Published at 21:30 GMT

World: Americas

Peru forced sterilisation allegations

Doctors in poor towns are forced to meet quotas, the report says

By South America Correspondent James Reynolds

An investigation conducted by a human rights group alleges that 250,000 women have undergone forced sterilisation in Peru in the last three years.

This investigation is not due to be presented until February but already its main findings have become clear.

Details of the report carried out by the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defence of Women's Rights have been published in the Spanish newspaper, El Pais.

The report alleges that since 1996, President Alberto Fujimori's government has conducted a policy of forced sterilisation among women in poor areas of the country.

It says that many women have been sterilised without their knowledge or consent, while others only agreed to sterilisation after threats were made against them and their families.

In the last three years, Peru's Ministry of Health has issued a series of sterilisation quotas to doctors working in poor areas of the country, the report says.

It alleges the pressure has been exerted on the doctors to achieve their quotas.

The issue of sterilisation has caused serious controversy in Peru in the last few years.

When President Fujimori was re-elected in 1995, he said that one of his main aims was to achieve a substantial reduction in the country's birth rate by the end of the century.

Despite objections from the church, Mr Fujimori went on to adopt a policy of voluntary sterilisation in order to achieve this aim.

This report backs up concerns raised by human rights groups in Peru that the policy of voluntary sterilisation has given way to one of forced sterilisation but the government denies that this is the case.

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