Victoria's long fight for justice for survivors of forced sterilization

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Content warning: forced sterilization and reproductive violence

This story is a tough one. But it’s not without hope.

It was the late 1990s in Peru and Victoria Saccsara had just had a stillbirth. An ongoing civil war meant jobs and money were scarce. There wasn’t much food to go around and Victoria had trouble feeding her toddler. So, when a nurse came to her village in the Andes offering to take her to a clinic for a food subsidy, she accepted.

She stood in line at the clinic awaiting the milk, flour and lentils she was promised. By the time Victoria suspected something was wrong, it was too late.

“I was just about to leave when they grabbed me at the door and forced me back in.”

They sterilized Victoria that day. She would never be able to bear another child.

Donate today to support survivors of forced sterilization, like Victoria.

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Watch Victoria tell her own story below.

Forced sterilization in Peru

In 1990s Peru, more than 300,000 people were forcibly sterilized under a government-run program. Most were Indigenous women in the country’s highlands, like Victoria.

Beyond being a gross violation of their rights, the procedure often resulted in trauma, chronic pain and myriad other health issues. Some women even died because of it. Victoria lives with pain to this day.

The long road to justice for survivors of forced sterilization in Peru

For more than a decade, Inter Pares has partnered with local organizations working to hold the Peruvian government accountable. Through these partnerships, we are supporting survivors as they demand reparations, better healthcare and a pension fund from the government.

For years, Inter Pares’ Peruvian counterparts, DEMUS and SISAY, have been at the forefront of exposing these atrocious human rights violations and supporting survivors seeking reparations.

DEMUS provides legal representation to survivors and was one of the forces behind the historic creation of the Registry of Victims of Forced Sterilizations in 2016 – marking a big step toward finally holding the Peruvian government accountable.

SISAY supports survivors on their mental health and livelihood development. Through SISAY, Victoria has been working for seven years alongside other survivors demanding reparations. 

It is only through the generosity of our donor community that we can support Victoria and so many others in their fight for justice. Donor support means women can access legal assistance, counselling services and training as they fight for reparations from the Peruvian government.

Roadblocks to justice

Last year, a political crisis erupted in Peru after the President was removed from office, imprisoned and replaced – a power grab that sparked countrywide protests. The new government responded with violence.

What’s more, it slashed funds meant for survivors of forced sterilization – redirecting those resources to finance an amped up police presence. 

That’s why we’re asking you to join us in supporting survivors like Victoria.  

This story isn’t over yet. Victoria shares her experiences to shine a light on what happened to her and so many other Indigenous women in the 1990s. In doing so, she’s helping ensure the story ends with justice.

You can help her get it.

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  • Elizabeth Ruljancich
    I am already a monthly supporter, but would like to give a little more at this time.