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Image of selected and unselected DNA

Forced sterilisation is a highly controversial practice that has been banned under multiple international treaties because it not only undermines bodily integrity and the right of a person to make their own reproductive choices but also has an extensive history of racism and eugenics. It is an ugly remnant of the past that unfortunately still rears its head today, as a recent New York Times investigation has uncovered.

The Nazi regime in Germany, for instance, infamously orchestrated not only the killings of Jews but also the forceful sterilisation of the queer community, ethnic minorities and anyone who had physical or mental disabilities.

The Istanbul Convention, which became effective in 2014, was signed by 37 nations and the European Union. It is a human rights treaty, focused mainly on oppressive and gender-based violence, that clearly states in Article 39 that all forms of forced abortion and forced sterilisation are a human rights violation.

Yet, The New York Times found that over a third of those countries have made exceptions, often for people that the government deems too disabled to consent.