Report reveals that Romani women were sterilised against their will in Sweden

07 November 1997

According to various press reports in late August, authorities in Sweden carried out forced sterilisations on 60,000 Romani women, in order to cleanse society of what they regarded as inferior racial types. The operations began in 1935 and ended only in 1976, according to a report in the online version of the Dutch news paper, De Telegraaf. The report alleges that the sterilisations were 'officially voluntary', although it goes on to add that many of the women did not understand what was being done to them.

An Associated Press release noted that the program had its roots in the pursuit of eugenics, a movement popular at the turn of the century, which aimed to 'improve humanity' by controlling genetic factors in reproduction and developed from widely-accepted 19th century racist doctrine. AP reported that the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter cited documents pertaining to the Swedish program, one of which stated "Grounds for recommending sterilisation: unmistakable Gypsy features, psychopathy, vagabond life." According to AP, the issue is even more controversial because of the fact that the sterilisations were carried out under a government of the Social Democrats, the party that built Sweden's welfare state.



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