Jamaica: Legislators Propose Virginity Tests and Forced Sterilization

Two legislators in Jamaica have proposed that schoolgirls undergo virginity tests and recommended forced sterilization for young women with three or more children to reduce unwanted pregnancies. Legislator Sharon Hay-Webster suggested sterilization at a Parliamentary session expressing that the breakdown of family values in Jamaica has led to an increase in teenage pregnancy and welfare burdens, according to the Associated Press.

Carolyn Gomes, the director of a local human rights group, told AP that this plan of action is a “step backward” that “tramples on people’s rights and fails to address underlying problems in society. Public education is what’s needed, not this.”

Almost half of all households are headed by single women in Jamaica and according to a 1993 survey 74 percent of all births in Jamaica were unplanned, according to the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

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Associated Press 7/30/03; Miami Herald 7/31/03; IPPF

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