As new evidence emerges of the Chinese government’s forcible sterilization of Uyghur women, communities around the world are sure to recognize elements of a familiar pattern.
The body of international law identifying forced sterilization as both an atrocity crime and a human rights violation has expanded to address the many current-day iterations of this form of eugenics, though the challenge of compliance remains.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court explicitly recognizes forced sterilization as both a war crime and crime against humanity of sexual violence.
Human rights law defines forced sterilization as any sterilization procedure carried out in the absence of the person’s full, free, prior, and informed consent.
The international prohibitions on forced sterilization are clear, and they provide multiple avenues for clarifying the facts, pressuring the Chinese government to stop the abuses against Uyghur women, and seeking accountability.
While the human rights standards are clear, there is no existing roadmap for remedying mass forced sterilizations and preventing their insidious recurrence.
(Author’s note: The author’s organization, the International Justice Resource Center, has been part of human rights advocacy concerning forced sterilization, including with regard to Canada. »