Stop the forced sterilization of women in Uzbekistan
  • Petitioned Mr. Аdkhаm Ilkhаmovich Ikramov

This petition was delivered to:

Minister of Public Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Mr. Аdkhаm Ilkhаmovich Ikramov
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
HRVP Catherine Ashton
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia
Mr. Sergey Lavrov
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Central Government
Mr. Yang Jiechi
Minister of External Affairs of India
Mr. S.M. Krishna
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan
Mr. Kamilov Abdulaziz Khafizovich
United States Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Mr. George A. Krol
Regional Programme Director, UN Women Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Ms. Damira Sartbaeva
UN Women Gender Advisor in Uzbekistan
Ms. Farzona Khashimova
Ambassador of the European Union to Uzbekistan
Mr. Norbert Jousten
First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, United Kingdom
Mr. William Hague
United Kingdom Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Mr. Rupert Joy
Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United States
The Honorable Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the United States
Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Republic of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Mr. Otabek Akbarov
President of the United States
U.S. Senate
U.S. House of Representatives

Stop the forced sterilization of women in Uzbekistan

    1. Rachel Soon
    2. Petition by

      Rachel Soon

      New York, NY

Imagine if you, or your pregnant wife, were to enter a hospital to deliver your child today-- and without your knowledge or consent, the doctors in charge permanently disabled you from having another child, ever again.

That is Nigora's story.

The day after she had an emergency C-section to rescue her first child, the doctors informed her that she had been sterilized. On the same day, her newborn died.

She is 24 years old and can never have children.

Nigora lives in Uzbekistan, where thousands of other women have similar stories to tell, and more women live through them with each passing day.

Rumors or tall tales? The British Broadcasting Corporation ran a special report on its World Service: it reveals first-hand accounts of doctors that divulge how the government of Uzbekistan is currently running a secret nationwide program to sterilize women.  The BBC has also personally interviewed Uzbekistan women sterilized without their knowledge or consent.

You can view the text of the BBC report here. You can also listen to the full report by the BBC News World Service here.

Some of the startling details revealed in the report include:

- firsthand accounts of women either sterilized without their knowledge, or being coerced by health workers to undergo sterilization operations after their second child
- hysterectomies (removal of the uterus) during C-section operations, often without the mother's knowledge, often with resulting health complications
- doctors, particularly gynecologists, being pressured to sterilize up to 8 women per week
- a dramatic increase in the number of C-section operations in the country in the last two years, observed and confirmed by various medical professionals, disputing official government statements that only 6.8% of women give birth via C-section
- the sterilization program being not only intended as a population control measure, but a means of reducing maternal and infant mortality rates, boosting Uzbekistan's rank in international league tables measuring human development

Government-driven sterilization in Uzbekistan is not a recent development.  In 2007, the United Nations Committee Against Torture also reported forcible sterilizations and hysterectomies in Uzbekistan, and the number of cases of forced sterilization appeared to fall as a result. But according to medical sources referred to by the BBC, in 2009 and 2010 the Uzbek government issued directives ordering clinics to be equipped to perform voluntary surgical contraception. In 2009, doctors from the capital were also dispatched to rural areas to increase the availability of sterilization services.

There is evidence that the number of sterilizations then began to rise again.

Uzbekistan signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) when it became an independent nation, joining other countries in obligating itself to upholding the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined therein.

Yet Article 16 of the UDHR states:

"Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family."

Yet the government of Uzbekistan has not only pressured, but outright removed by force the rights of women to bear children--- the very cornerstone of family in a country where life centers around them.

Article 3 of the UDHR states:

"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."

Yet women in Uzbekistan do not have the liberty of control of their ability to bear children. Or the security of being in control. Their government does.

Article 5 of the UDHR states:

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Yet the Ministry of Public Health, by removing the ability of the women of Uzbekistan to bear children without even giving them the choice, subjects them to the same treatment as animals.

If the government of Uzbekistan truly intends to live up to its human rights obligations, it must change.  If it does not, it must be pressured to change.

Foreign governments, such as the US and the EU, have recently been lifting sanctions on Uzbekistan, in part due to Uzbekistan's strategic significance to getting supplies and troops into Afghanistan. Few of their representatives sent to Uzbekistan have even commented on its poor human rights record.

"(Uzbekistan) has managed to get to the point in (its) relationship with the West when there are no consequences for (its) actions and human rights abuses," says Steve Swerdlow, director of Central Asia's Human Rights Watch. "There is a deafening silence when it comes to human rights."

In a country where talking to a foreign journalist could result in a prison term, in a country where torture in detention is the norm, people live in fear of speaking up and speaking out. 

The silence must be broken. And the best way to break a silence of this kind is for you, and people like you, to add your voice to it.

Speak up for those who cannot speak.

The Uzbek government claimed to the BBC that "Uzbekistan's record in protecting mothers and babies is excellent and could be considered a model for countries around the world. "

Yet the childless home of Nigora, and others like hers, are a silent testimony otherwise.


Recent signatures


    1. Status Update: New recipients, technical issues, and new platforms

      Rachel Soon
      Petition Organizer

      We've hit 125 signatures in two days! And thanks to your feedback, new recipients have been added to the list:

      - US Ambassador to Uzbekistan Mr. George Krol
      - UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Mr. Rupert Joy
      - UN Women Central Asia Sub-Region Programme Director Ms. Damira Sartbaeva
      - UN Women Gender Advisor in Uzbekistan Ms. Farzona Khashimova
      - Uzbekistan Ambassador to the UK Mr. Otabek Akbarov
      - Uzbekistan Ambassador to the US (name unknown)
      - EU Ambassador to Uzbekistan Mr. Norbert Jousten
      - UK Foreign Secretary William Hague

      Also, a number of you have reported issues trying to sign your names onto the petition from outside the USA; this has been reported to the staff, who should hopefully be fixing it soon. Please do check back in the next few days, and don't be dissuaded from adding your voice to this campaign! This isn't just an American effort-- it's a global one.

      Help spread the word on Tumblr and Twitter too:

    2. 100 signatures reached!

      Rachel Soon
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you for your support and help in getting the word out! Let's keep working to get the ball rolling.

      Uzbekistan is not the only country in the world where women are having their rights to bear children stripped away from them without consent. For more info about forced sterilization around the world, take a moment to check out the Open Society Foundation's campaign, Stop Torture in Healthcare (link at the bottom of this post).

    3. MSNBC Report - Forced sterilization on women of Uzbekistan

      Rachel Soon
      Petition Organizer

      In their Reality Check segment, MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry reports on how in many ways the big debate on the "war on women" in the United States pales in comparison to what goes on in other parts of the world.

    4. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Odeta Onete TIMISOARA, RI
      • about 2 years ago

      Because forcible sterilisation is against the law of GOD. And against human rights too.

    • Davis Tran OAKLAND, CA
      • about 2 years ago

      human rights

    • Amanda Gunning MONROE, NY
      • about 2 years ago

      Everyone has reproductive rights!!! Having a child is the most wonderful blessing ever and whether you want one or five, that should be your decision.

    • Jen Jurik TACOMA, WA
      • about 2 years ago

      Where is the outrage??? I am glad that someone has begun this petition. I looked to first after hearing this horrific report on BBC.

    • Virginia Espino LOS ANGELES, CA
      • about 2 years ago

      I am signing this petition because I believe in reproductive justice for all women.


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