30. While United Nations human rights instruments, mechanisms and agencies have recognized that the forced sterilization of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination, a form of violence, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,³⁵ the practice is still legal and applied in many countries.³⁶ Across the globe, many legal systems allow judges, health-care professionals, family members and guardians to consent to sterilization procedures on behalf of persons with disabilities as being in their “best interest”, particularly for girls with disabilities who are under the legal authority of their parents. The practices are often conducted on a purported precautionary basis because of the vulnerability of girls and young women with disabilities to sexual abuse, and under the fallacy that sterilization would enable girls and young women with disabilities who are “deemed unfit for parenthood” to improve their quality of life without the “burden” of a pregnancy.³⁷ However, sterilization neither protects them against sexual violence or abuse nor removes the State’s obligation to protect them from such abuse.³⁸ Forced sterilization is an unacceptable practice with lifelong consequences on the physical and mental integrity of girls and young women with disabilities that must be immediately eradicated and criminalized.
³⁵ See Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, arts. 5, 12, 23 and 25, Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, general comment No. 3, paras. 10, 32, 44 and 45, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, general comment No. 22, para. 30, Committee on the Rights of the Child, general comment No. 20, para. 31, Committee on the Rights of the Child, general comment No. 13, para. 23, CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/5, paras. 34-35, 37 and 42, CEDAW/C/AUL/CO/7, paras. 35 and 43, A/63/175, paras. 40-41 and 70-76, A/HRC/22/53, para. 48, A/67/227, para. 28, A/HRC/32/32, para. 94, and OHCHR, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, UNICEF and WHO, Eliminating forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization: an interagency statement (WHO, Geneva, 2014). Available from www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/201405_sterilization_en.pdf.
³⁶ See the concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in relation to the reports of Argentina, Australia, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Cook Islands, Croatia, Czechia, China, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay and the European Union.
³⁷ See, for example, the Constitutional Court of Colombia, sentence C-182 of 13 April 2016, and the Constitutional Court of Spain, sentence 215/1994 of 14 July 1994.
³⁸ OHCHR, et al., Eliminating forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization: an interagency statement, p. 6.