Disabled Girls in Australia Victims of Coerced Sterilisation

Leslie Carol Botha: Coerced sterilisation of innocent disabled girls leaves them open to sexual assault and rape. Lucas makes a great point that only girls are targeted and not disabled boys. Years ago, I was contacted by a administrator of home for the disabled who was concerned about females being put on Depo Provera for menstrual management and pregnancy prevention. He related many instances where men who worked in the home took sexual leeway with these innocent girls because they could not voice objection nor would they get pregnant. Where is the justice?

Coerced sterilisation ‘should be made unlawful’

Sydney Morning Herald
Clay Lucas
Workplace Editor for The Age
December 4, 2012

THE sterilisation of children without their consent must be criminalised, along with the taking of a disabled child overseas with the intention of having them sterilised, the Australian Human Rights Commission says.

The recommendation is contained in the commission’s submission to a Senate inquiry into the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities in Australia, which began in September.

In Australia, involuntary or coerced sterilisations are predominantly performed on female children with a disability, and are performed for reasons including the management of menstruation and to prevent pregnancy.

The exact number of involuntary or coerced sterilisations on women and girls each year in Australia is unknown, the Human Rights Commission said in its submission.

”However, the commission is concerned by reports that they continue to occur, and their rate may be increasing,” the submission said.

Among five submissions received so far is one from an anonymous Australian mother, who argues that groups concerned about preserving the fertility rights of disabled people should be focused on more important quality-of-life issues.

The unnamed mother says dealing with the menstruation of her daughter, who suffers from a moderate intellectual disability, had pushed her close to breaking point.

”She refuses point-blank to wear a bra, and there was no way in the world she would tolerate wearing a pad in her underwear,” the mother said. ”It was impossible for school to be able to manage her.”

The mother said society had ”washed its hands of the responsibility of children like mine … They don’t jump up and down about her right to have a job or a meaningful adult life.”

The mother said allowing a medical procedure to stop her daughter’s periods ”for the rest of her life would only be a blessing to her and to me … This should not be a legal problem,” she said. ”This should be between the person with a disability, their family and their doctors.”

The Senate committee, which will report back in April, is holding a public hearing as part of the inquiry in Melbourne next Tuesday.

Stella Young, editor of ABC’s Ramp Up website, dedicated to disability issues, said sterilisation of disabled girls had been extremely common. ”You would hope it has become less common,” she said, but that procedure rates had not dropped by as much as expected over the past decade.

Ms Young said sterilisation of disabled people ”only happens to women”, and that this made it clear it was to do with a woman’s sexuality. ”For women with a disability it’s seen [that] sexual impulses need to be regulated.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.