|A decree allegedly orders each physician to persuade “at least two women’’ a month to have a hysterectomy. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Ap)|
Uzbekistan orders sterilization, group alleges
MOSCOW - A human rights group and a think tank alleged yesterday that Uzbekistan’s government has instructed health workers to surgically sterilize women as part of a campaign to reduce the birth rate in the former Soviet nation.
Uzbek health officials did not answer repeated telephone calls seeking comment about the allegation.
Previous human rights, United Nations, and US State Department reports, however, also have alleged that women in the central Asian country have been forced or duped into sterilization.
Uzbekistan’s government retains strict Soviet-style control over health institutions in the predominantly Muslim nation of 27 million, whose population has been growing quickly.
The Expert Working Group, an independent think tank based in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, said yesterday that a Health Ministry decree issued in mid-February orders district doctors to recommend hysterectomy as an effective contraceptive. The procedure requires partial removal of the uterus and makes women irreversibly sterile.
The decree orders each district physician to persuade “at least two women’’ a month to have the procedure, the group’s coordinator, Sukhrobdzon Ismoilov, said in a phone interview.
Physicians who don’t comply face reprisals and fines from their superiors, he added.
“We’re talking about at least tens of thousands of women,’’ Ismoilov said.