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No compensation for sterilisation victims

Forced sterilisation was carried out in Switzerland until the 1980s swissinfo.ch

The Swiss parliament has rejected a proposal to offer financial compensation to victims of forced sterilisation.

This content was published on December 15, 2004 - 17:45

It also agreed on the final details of a new law permitting castration and forced sterilisation in exceptional circumstances.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday followed the Senate in rejecting a proposal to offer victims of forced sterilisation a symbolic compensation payment of SFr5,000 ($4,387).

Centre-left parliamentarians argued that forced sterilisation, carried out mainly on women until the 1980s in Switzerland, was an attack on an individual’s physical integrity.

But a majority of centre-right and rightwing parliamentarians followed the government in rejecting the proposal, which was launched in 1999.

The House initially came out in favour of compensation, but it was later turned down by the Senate.

Justice Minister Christoph Blocher told the House on Wednesday that by agreeing to payments, parliament could be setting a precedent for other victims' groups.

Handicapped women

He added that it was difficult to make judgements about decisions and circumstances which led to forced sterilisations at the time.

Experts say mainly mentally and physically handicapped women as well as those of low social standing were sterilised against their will, especially in the first half of the 20th century.

An estimated 100 surviving victims of forced sterilisation would have benefited from compensation.

The House also agreed on the final details of a government proposal to permit forced sterilisation under strict conditions.

People with incurable mental illnesses could in future be forced to undergo sterilisation, but only in exceptional circumstances.

The new law also states that patients have to be informed about the operation and give their consent wherever possible.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Forced sterilisation was carried out in Switzerland until the 1980s.

An estimated 100 surviving victims would have benefited from compensation payments.

In June 2004 parliament agreed in principle on a law permitting forced sterilisation under certain conditions.

In December 2004 parliament voted down a proposal to compensate victims and finalised a new law permitting forced sterilisation.

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