Call for child sterilization laws

MUMBAI. July 18. KAZINFORM New laws making it illegal to travel overseas to sterilise children with disabilities have been recommended after an inquiry revealed Australians are going to New Zealand, Thailand and India for the controversial procedure.

A parliamentary inquiry has been examining claims people are being sterilised against their wishes or are being tricked into the procedure, as well as delving into the issues faced by careers.

It has made 28 recommendations, including laws in each state banning unauthorised sterilisation procedures and to make it illegal to travel overseas for one.

A ban on forced sterilisation for people who can give consent or may one day have that ability was also recommended, as was more training for doctors on other ways to manage reproductive health.

The inquiry heard evidence from scores of parents supporting sterilisation on a case-by-case basis to protect their child from rape and pregnancy and from the trauma of menstruation and giving birth.

But the committee said it "abhors the suggestion that sterilisation ever be used as means of managing the pregnancy risks associated with sexual abuse and strongly recommends that this must never be a factor in approval of sterilisation".

In Australia, the Family Court must give permission for non-therapeutic sterilisation procedures on children.
But some families are travelling abroad for such procedures, although it is unclear how widespread the practice is.
The committee heard one woman had taken her "very attractive" daughter to New Zealand for a hysterectomy because she did not cope well with menstruation and the mother was "desperately worried that her daughter would be assaulted or abused and become pregnant".

One parent told senators: "So don't judge parents who make the decision to go overseas to have their precious children sterilised, because you don't know the half of it."

"You don't lie awake at night worrying about them being abused and getting pregnant."

Other parents said they were prepared to go overseas to help their children because they saw no other way and because the court system was too expensive and complicated.

"Who has $10,000 to apply to the Family Court to do something to better their child's health?" asked the father of a moderate to severely intellectually disabled daughter.

The committee was told of other cases where families travelled overseas after being rejected by Australian courts.
The committee also heard from women who wanted to have children but could not because of their sterilisation.

One told how she had been tricked into the procedure by her father who had told her she was going to the hospital to have her tonsils out.

"I did not have a sore throat afterwards," she said, adding she only found out when she tried to have children and her partner then left her.

Another told senators she had been engaged and wanted to have a child with her partner but her father told her she should be sterilised because her child would be handicapped.

One female collected 100 prams because she had wanted a baby so much and another kept a picture of a baby by her bedside because she yearned to be a mother.

The committee heard societal preconceptions that people with disabilities could not parent were wrong.

But parents told how their children could not properly understand the responsibilities.

One mother said she supported her daughter having a fulfilling relationship.

"But should my daughter be able to have children? No. She can barely look after herself," she said.

Follow reporter Jessica Marszalek on Twitter at @JessMarie_News


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