The involuntary sterilisation of marginalised women: Power, discrimination, and intersectionality

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This article demonstrates that involuntary sterilisation procedures are generally a manifestation of intersectional discrimination and the medical profession’s use and abuse of power. Accordingly, the article uses the example of involuntary sterilisation to illuminate the multiple forms of discrimination experienced by society’s most marginalised and vulnerable people and to discuss the role of social hierarchy and existing power structures in compounding and perpetuating the expression of discrimination. It begins by referencing the power of law before considering the power of the medical profession in the context of society in general. It then analyses the gendered dimension of this power, specifically considering the example of involuntary sterilisation and discussing the importance of adopting an approach which views this issue through an intersectional lens. Finally, the article invokes a number of specific examples of involuntary sterilisation procedures being performed on marginalised groups of women to make the discussion more tangible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-70
Number of pages26
JournalGriffith Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016

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