In August 2011, the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners filed an amicus brief to the European Court of Human Rights in support of Joëlle Gauer and Others —five women with mental disabilities in France who were forcibly sterilized—arguing that forced sterilization constitutes a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Case filed: August 16, 2011
Plaintiff(s): Joëlle Gauer and Others
Center Attorney(s): Adriana Lamačková, Sofia Khan
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: European Disability Forum, International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS), International Disability Alliance, and Mental Disability Advocacy Center
Summary: This case involves five young women with mental disabilities, living in France, who were forcibly sterilized between 1995 and 1998. The women did not receive adequate information about what sterilization implies and their consent to the procedure was not required. Forced sterilization happens across the world and is a gross violation of the women’s human rights.
In August 2011, the Center, the European Disability Forum, the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS), the International Disability Alliance, and the Mental Disability Advocacy Center filed an amicus brief with the European Court of Human Rights asking the Court to find a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. The jointly filed brief demonstrates that informed consent is a critical component of any sterilization procedure and that it is a violation of international human rights when sterilization is performed on women with disabilities, a particularly vulnerable group, without their full and informed consent. In particular, the brief argues that the women’s rights to be free from torture and ill-treatment, to respect for private and family life, to found a family, to a fair trial and not least to the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of gender and disability were violated (invoking Articles 3, 6, 8, 12, and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights).