The case receiving the most attention is that of María Mestanza. Mestanza was a 33 year old woman with 7 children who died in 1996 from complications after undergoing a sterilization procedure. Her family originally brought the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights due to testimony that Mestanza only went through the surgery after being threatened by officials. “Mestanza was told that a law had been passed and that she and her husband were going to be fined or imprisoned because they had more than five kids already,” said Alejandra Cardenas of the Center for Reproductive Rights based in New York.In 2001, the Peruvian government reached a settlement with Mestanza’s family that consisted of a $100,000 compensation payment as well as free education for her children. However, at the time of the settlement the regional human rights commission urged the Peruvian government to prosecute those responsible.The issue of consent was hotly contested when the cases were first brought. Officials of the Fujimori government claimed that all surgeries were done voluntarily as evidenced by signed consent forms. However, investigators paint a different version of the story with the women being harassed, threatened and outright lied to in order to get the forms signed.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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