Uzbek women fear talking about their forced sterilization (Photo: Natalia Antelava)
Journalist Natalia Antelava talks with Marco Werman about what she says is a secret program by the government of Uzbekistan to sterilize women against their will.
Antelava, who was barred from entering Uzbekistan to report her story for the BBC, interviewed Uzbek women and doctors who had crossed the border into Kazakhstan, and she contacted others by telephone and e-mail. They told her of a government plan to limit the size of families through sterilization, sometimes without a woman's consent or even her knowledge.
"After I gave birth to my second child, doctors told me that I shouldn't have any more," said one Uzbek woman, who asked not to be identified. "I was under a full anesthetic. They didn't ask me anything. They just cut out my uterus."
Doctors told Antelava that the Ministry of Health has ruled that they must perform such surgical sterilizations. "It's ruling number 1098," said one doctor, "and it says that after two children, in some areas after three, a woman should be sterilized."
In a written response to the BBC's request for comment, the government of Uzbekistan called such allegations slanderous and insisted they bore no relation to reality.