Population Control And Womens Rights Essay

2414 words - 10 pages

Population control has been a women's issue for a very long time. Programs or ideologies that regulate and manage population always impact the lives of women, since women are the prime focus of reproduction. Population control can rage from the right of individuals to have access to birth control, to government sanctions limiting or putting boundaries on the number of children families can have, to far-reaching development programs that place restrictions on the reproductive rights of women around the world. A controversial issue, population control has been both promoted and criticized within the women's movement. It can be understood both as a way to empower women by providing them with more control over their bodies, and as a form of violence which systematically robs women of reproductive rights. A good example of population control that violently impacts women is eugenics, something that is based on discrimination due to race, class, gender, and physical or mental ability. Canada in particular had Sterilization Acts set up and enforced in both British Columbia and Alberta from the late 1920s that were not abolished until the first half of the 1970s. While the acts primarily targeted minority groups (especially aboriginal populations) and were not limited to just women, the rate at which women were sterilized in comparison to men was alarming and reinforces the fact that this topic is truly a matter of violence against women. While both men and women were targeted, women were sterilized far more often than men and their reproductive rights were taken from them, often without their consent. In order to do show readers how the Sterilization Laws developed and the historical context they developed in, this paper will first address the origins of the eugenics movement. The paper will also explore Alberta's sterilization act, the different elements that were associated with it, and who it targeted. The goal of this paper is to discuss acts of eugenics and coercive population control with a specific reference to Canada, and to illustrate how they exist as an example of institutionalized violence against women. By doing this, this paper will hopefully provide a background in which to better understand why countries must be careful when they write laws involving women's reproduction, and clarify one of the many forms that violence against women can take.Eugenics has largely been, if not secretive, then at least not widely known about. There are some historical examples that are well-known, however, and act as a useful context when we are exploring eugenics in Canada. Nazi Germany is the most extreme and obvious example. Aside from blatant genocide that took place at concentration camps during the war, Nazi Germany also employed other techniques for ethnic cleansing. Believing, in a nutshell, that Caucasian, blonde haired and blue eyed people were superior to the rest of the world's races, Adolf Hitler began a massive 'racial health' campaign in the...

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