Sterilisation is not, officially, the law in Uzbekistan.
But evidence gathered by the BBC suggests that the Uzbek authorities have run a programme over the last two years to sterilise women across the country, often without their knowledge.
“Every year we are presented with a plan. Every doctor is told how many women we are expected to give contraception to; how many women are to be sterilised,” says a gynaecologist from the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.
Two other medical sources suggest that there is especially strong pressure on doctors in rural areas of Uzbekistan, where some gynaecologists are expected to sterilise up to eight women per week.
The number of sterilizations, often termed “surgical contraception,” may be around 80,000. However, due to government restrictions, that figure is impossible to verify.
Uzbekistan is considered the worst country in the world for civil and political freedom. It is also one of the most corrupt.
Unfortunately, Uzbekistan is also a vital transit route for supplies to support the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Western nations have been soft-spoken about human rights abuses there since 2005, when the US was evicted from the Karshi-Khanabad air base.
The sterilization program has been functional since at least 2005.