photo: Vivala, iStock, Corbis

Se Pasó is a daily opinion column where Vivianna tackles entertainment, news, and pop culture with her bold and fearless voice. In other words, she says exactly what you are thinking. 

Imagine being forced into sterilization. Or, even more torturous, going through involuntary sterilization on the same surgical table that you just gave birth on minutes prior. This actually happened to citizens of Peru.

In Peru, around 1995–2001 — and under the presidency of Alberto Fujimori — roughly 350,000 women and 25,000 indigenous people were forced into sterilization. But current President Ollanta Humala is finally recognizing these atrocious acts after the story made headlines last month.

Related From Vivala: Why More Latinas Are Waiting to Have Babies

“Never again in Peru can we implement a policy of fighting poverty by violating the reproductive rights of poor families,” Humala said on national television.

After last month prosecutor Luis Antonio Landa Burgos ordered a criminal investigation into the case be reopened since it was last closed a few years back. The Ministry of Justice is working with the National Registry of Forced Sterilization Victims as a way to facilitate care to these people.

The so-called program was created to help eliminate the poverty in the nation and Fujimori — who is currently in prison for, ahem, human rights violations — continues to affirm that this was a voluntary act. However, those who were affected are finally speaking out and saying otherwise.

Related From VivalaDepression Hits Latinas Harder Than Most

“I didn’t sign anything. They tricked us. Nurses told us we had to go to the clinic where we would be given a free health checkup, medicine, and food. They said it was for our own good and well-being,” said Esperanza Huayama, who was three months pregnant when she was sterilized. “They threatened us and said those who refuse to go wouldn’t get medical care in the future.”

The program was implemented nationally, Telesur reports, but the methods were not systematic. Certain times, the victim’s families were told to sign consent for them. Other times the victims, unknowingly, were sterilized after giving birth.

Related From Vivala: How to Help Women in Latin America

Like most decent people reading about this program for the first time, I am completely outraged and saddened that a government was even capable of doing this. I am not naive to the atrocities dictators compete, however why did it take so long for Peru to formally acknowledge the wrongdoing they committed? Was it simply a political boost for Humala, who brought up this issue during elections against Fujimori’s daughter Keiko Fujimori? All of this is completely despicable.

There are loads of international programs that aid in helping the poor get sex education and learn about family planning. All people, regardless of class, should have the right to have a family.