Latin America and the Caribbean

NEWS FROM BRAZIL supplied by SEJUP (Servico Brasileiro de Justica e Paz)
17 November 1994


The index of mass sterilization of women in Brazil is grave. Calculations of the Health Ministry estimate that 25 million Brazilian women have been sterilized. The index of sterilized women is greater in the poorest areas of the country (the northeast and central-west). 75.9 percent of the women in the state of Maranhao are sterilized. 71.9 percent in Goias and 63.3 percent in Mato Grosso. The incidence of sterilization is higher in Afro-Brazilian women revealing a racist component to this procedure. The majority of the sterilizations are done immediately after a woman gives birth to a child. In a country where birth control methods are almost the most expensive in the world, sterilization has become the most common form of birth control in Brazil. Denouncements continue to be made that many firms demand a pregnancy test at the time of a job interview and even subsidize sterilization surgeries. Sterilization is prohibited by law and by the medical ethical code. We are not talking about sterilization curative or therapeutic that occurs in cases such as removal of a tumor but are speaking of sterilization as a contraceptive method, voluntary, coerced or induced.

Why are so many women being sterilized in Brazil? Why are youth and even adolescents being sterilized? There exists in the National Congress a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry to investigate the incidence of mass sterilization. The Kissinger Report, a secret document of the National Security Council (1974) reports on "The Implications of World-wide Population Growth on the Security and External Interests of the United States". This document lists as a priority birth-rate control in 13 key countries in the Third World, but especially in Brazil. Extraordinary resources were allotted to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement the policy of birth-rate control.

Population increase in the Third World countries is seen as a grave and serious threat to the security and interests of the U.S. The document states "over the last decades, the U.S. has become more dependent on the importation of minerals from developing countries and this situation will probably continue. In extreme cases, in which population growth leads to endemic hunger and social disorder, these conditions are not favorable to the systematic exploitation of mineral deposits nor to the long-term investments that are necessary for the utilization of these deposits".

With a population of more than 150 million, Brazil demographically dominates the continent. Over the next 25 years, Brazil will have a major influence in Latin America and the world.

In order to control population growth, the document concludes that sterilization of men and women is a simple, rapid and secure method. The implications of these policies have had far-reaching effects in Brazil.

The right to be born is integrally linked with the right to live and grow in a healthy manner. The people of the developing countries need to organize themselves to fight against interventions from the first world to control maternity.


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