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18 Oct, 2020 17:45

Russian authorities inspect care home accused of forcibly STERILIZING disabled women, threatening them with psychiatric transfer

Russian authorities inspect care home accused of forcibly STERILIZING disabled women, threatening them with psychiatric transfer

A care home in Russia's Ural region has come under fire after a shocking video surfaced on social media accusing the facility of coercing disabled women into surgical sterilization. Now, local authorities have launched an inquiry.

The disturbing images were published by Telegram channel Baza. They showed a resident of the care home in the Sverdlovsk territory saying she was forcibly sterilized on the orders of the facility's administration.

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“I did not want that! I did not even understand what it was all about,” the woman – identified as Lyudmila Guseva – said as she recalled her story. No one explained anything to her, she said, adding that she only discovered the truth from other care home residents. When Guseva sought to opt out of the operation, the medics and the administration of the care home threatened her with a transfer to a mental health institution with a stricter regime, she says.

Some staff also allegedly told her that her children would be taken away from her anyway if she ever decided to give birth, according to local media. Others reportedly told her outright that children born from disabled people like her are “not needed here” and the care home would not provide for them, adding that they do not allow their residents to give birth.

“They have ruined us all,” Guseva said. “We are no longer able to give birth.”

A total of 10 women have reportedly been subjected to the forced sterilization. One of them subsequently died. Her family believes it was due to complications caused by the surgery. 

Local authorities have launched several inquiries into the incident. The region’s social policy ministry said it was the first time it had received a complaint from the care home’s residents. A spokesperson for the ministry also noted that a medical certificate confirming the surgery dates back to 2008.

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A regional ombudsperson admitted that the care home residents and their relatives had complained about the facility’s doctors insisting on the residents being sterilized for medical reasons. “We knew [the medics] sought to convince [the residents]. Yet, no forceful [sterilization] instances were confirmed,” she told news agency TASS, adding that an inquiry had still been launched.

The care home administration has not yet commented on the accusations. The facility was established back in the Soviet era and was designed to host elderly and disabled people, often those who had no families or previously lived in orphanages. Residents are provided with free meals and rooms in exchange for a small fee, usually covered by their state-provided pensions. The residents are not confined to the care home, though, and are free to leave it at will.

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