Forced and coerced sterilization of women in Europe

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2011 Aug;114(2):163-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2011.05.002.


Human rights provisions in laws set by international treaties and national legislatures make individuals' informed and freely given consent a precondition to the legality of their sterilization. Nevertheless, evidence shows that sterilizations have been undertaken by forceful means or coerced acceptance, to which women do not genuinely consent. The women are often members of ethnic minorities in their countries, such as Roma women, or adolescent or disabled women. Some European governments have acknowledged their responsibility for human rights abuses by forced and coerced sterilization of vulnerable women, and committees established by international human rights treaties to monitor states' compliance with their standards are increasingly vigilant to expose and condemn wrongful sterilization. For instance, the committee monitoring compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights provide guidance for the prevention of violations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Human Rights Abuses*
  • Humans
  • Sterilization, Involuntary / ethics*
  • Sterilization, Involuntary / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Women's Rights*