[Sterilization: necessity or genocide?]

Concienc Latinoam. Apr-Jun 1991;3(2):8-9.
[Article in Portuguese]


PIP: Recent warnings by the UN Fund for Population Activities about the rapid growth of the world population and the overwhelming role in it played by impoverished women in developing countries are of interest to all women in Latin America. According to the document, Third World Women require drastic improvements in their socioeconomic positions in order to achieve reductions in their family sizes and avoid an increase in the world population from 5 billion at present to 10 billion in 2025, which would be a disaster for the planet. The document states that much of the environmental damage that would occur would be attributable to the combination of poverty and rapid population increase. If the proportion of the world's women using contraceptives increases from the current 45% to 58% by the year 2000, the world population in 2025 will be 8.5 billion. The document recommends that the amount of money invested in family planning be greatly increased by 2000 in order to make possible increased use of family planning. It appears, however, that much of the funding for family planning is under the control of private organizations and is used to serve the interests of foreign countries. The 2 principal private family planning organizations in Brazil, for example, received 18.2 million US dollars between 1978--84, which were used largely to finance a campaign of mass sterilization. Brazil's rate of population growth, which was 2.1% in 1980-85 and 1.8% in 1990, is expected to drop to 1.6% in 1995. With the decline in the rate of growth, the population will be 170 million in 2000 instead of the 220 million projected using data from the 1970s. A much higher proportion of fertile-aged women in Brazil is sterilized than in the US or Europe . Closer examination of the premises behind family planning policies shows them to be questionable. The premise that population density affects the environment is questionable; Japan, West Germany, and Holland have some of the highest population densities in the world but are highly developed. On the other hand Bolivia and Peru are underdeveloped but have very low population densities. Brazil has 1 of the lowest population densities in the world at 14 inhabitants per sq km. Rural- urban migration in the past few decades has transferred a hugh contingent of rural dwellers to the outskirts of the large and medium sized cities. Brazil's perverse economic model that concentrates income, focuses on exports, and encourages latifundia, and not population density, is responsible for urban growth. A truly efficient demographic policy would seek a transformation of the economic model. Another myth is that environmental damage is caused by poverty and rapid population growth. The most polluting countries of the world are the most developed and richest. Population movements in Latin American countries with mass sterilization programs should divert the funds to programs improving the status of women, who could then control their own fertility.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Americas
  • Brazil
  • Demography
  • Developing Countries*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic*
  • Family Planning Policy*
  • Family Planning Services
  • Geography
  • Health Planning*
  • Latin America
  • Population
  • Population Density*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Population Growth*
  • Public Policy*
  • South America
  • Sterilization, Reproductive*