The EU must take action against the forced sterilisation of disabled people within the European Union, an MEP has said. (EPA-EFE/MANUEL DE ALMEIDA)


Forced sterilisations in the EU: MEP calls for action


The European Union must take action against the forced sterilisation of disabled people within the bloc, an MEP has said.

José Gusmão, a member of The Left in the European Parliament, has written to the European Commission asking what steps it is taking to end the practice of sterilising disabled people, which remains legal in 13 EU Member States.

“Minors may be subjected to the treatment in three of those countries, including Portugal, where a legal vacuum means sterilisation may be performed without consent and sometimes even goes unrecorded,” he wrote.

“Aside from being an attack on the physical integrity of these individuals, the practice violates the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” the MEP added, asking the EC what steps it was taking to end such sterilisations.

Responding to the parliamentarian on September 11, the EC said that it was aware of the issue.

“Forced sterilisation breaches the right to human dignity, the right to integrity of the person, the prohibition of torture or degrading treatment, and the right to private and family life,” said Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli.

She added that, while the EU was not taking direct action against forced sterilisation, it said the measures it is taking to combat violence against women would help tackle some elements of the problem.

“Forced sterilisation disproportionally affects women with disabilities and is considered a form of gender-based violence,” Dalli wrote.

“The Commission has proposed a Directive on violence against women and domestic violence. While it does not criminalise forced sterilisation, the measures for victim support and protection do apply to any type of violence criminalised at national level,” she added.

Speaking to Brussels Signal, Gusmão welcomed the EU’s recognition of forced sterilisation as a problem.

He seemed displeased, though, that the bloc was not making any detailed plans specifically aimed at dealing with the issue.

“It is crucial that the Commission recognises this practice as a violation of the rights of people with disabilities, but we want a more concrete and consequential action,” he said.

“Forced sterilisation of people with disabilities is a serious problem in several Member States that must be addressed at all levels.”