TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, April 25 (UPI) -- Many women in Uzbekistan are sterilized without their consent under a government order meant to reduce the number of poor people, human rights activists say.
A human rights campaigner who requested anonymity because of fear of detention said about 5,000 women have been sterilized without consent since February, The Sunday Times of London reported.
Rights activists say tens of thousands of young women have been sterilized in secret since 2003 in the former Soviet state, on orders of President Islam Karimov, who has ruled Uzbekistan since 1990. The sterilizations were cut back in 2005 following public protest but resumed in February, the newspaper said.
Under pressure from the health ministry, doctors pressure women to deliver by Caesarean section and then sterilize them without obtaining their consent, the report said. This has caused many women to opt for home delivery to avoid the risk.
A 26-year-old woman said she was visited at home by doctors who told her she should go to a local hospital for a checkup. She said she was told she had a potentially fatal cyst.
"They scared me into believing I needed an urgent operation," she said. "I was surprised as I'd never had any pain but I was worried and agreed to the surgery. When it was over they told me they'd performed a sterilization. I could not stop crying. They tricked me and treated me like an animal."