An investigative report by BBC Journalist Natalia Antelava has revealed a government policy in Uzbekistan to sterilize women, mostly without their knowledge. Antelava gathered evidence that the government ran the sterilization program before she was deported from the country at the end of February.

The BBC reports that many women were forcibly sterilized after giving birth and were not told about the procedure. According to the report, many only discovered that they had been sterilized after seeking medical advice when they tried to become pregnant again. A gynecologist from the capital city, Tashkent, told Antelava that “every year we are presented with a plan. Every doctor is told how many women we are expected to give contraception to; how many women are to be sterilized.”

The Expert Working Group, one of the only NGOs in Uzbekistan, estimated that the number of women who were forcibly sterilized is in the tens of thousands. Antelava also quotes a source at the Ministry of Health who says the program is intended to curb the country’s growing population. The Uzbek government denies the claims and said the report was “slanderous and bore no relation to reality.”

BBC 4/11/12

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