Quipu – Calls for Justice

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In the 1990s Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori promoted a sterilization campaign that targeted underprivileged indigenous women and men living in rural communities.  Needless to say, these citizens were held against their will and never gave their consent for the sterilization. Vasectomies and tubal ligations were performed forcefully on them under the guise of it being for their own good. According to the government it was a family planning strategy to eradicate poverty and to give women the freedom to choose.

It is estimated that about 272,000 women and 22,000 men were victims of this atrocious program, which was called a voluntary contraceptive system.

The Quipu project is a phone line that encourages victims to share their stories about what was done to them.  The line also allows anyone to listen to the hundreds of testimonies that have already been recorded.  People from all over the world have called in to listen to the stories and to offer their support.

A group of wronged women continue to fight for justice regarding this crime. The Quipu team travels across Peru to those regions that were most affected by the sterilization campaign. These are isolated, rural, and impoverished villages that are located in the Andes and Amazon. As they meet more victims and hear their stories, the extent of the damage that has been done starts to come to light.

In 2006, Alberto Fujimori was jailed for violation of human rights and corruption during his presidency. However, he was not charged for involuntary sterilization and the investigation remained open.

Esperanza Huayama is the president of the Huancabamba Women Organization. She works alongside a group of brave women who have decided to keep fighting against all odds. One such woman is Teodula Pusma, who tells how the nurses at the local clinic told her they would no longer help her with food unless she got sterilized because she was having children like a rabbit. Another woman says that after complaining about the forced procedure she was told by medical personnel that she should be grateful she wasn’t killed like in other countries where they killed women for having too many babies.

As they march down the street in protest, the women meet many supporters, but also a few who hurl insults at them.  These women are rightfully seeking the justice and restitution they deserve.