Ana Castillo denounced that women giving birth in the Changuinola and Almirante hospitals could not have children again, while "those who giving birth at home, do get pregnant again."
On Monday, officials from the Panamanian Attorney General's Office and human rights defenders traveled to the Ngobe-Bugle community to investigate allegations of non-consensual sterilization of Indigenous women.
At a meeting of the Commission for Women held last week, lawmaker Walkiria Chandler stated that a dozen indigenous Panamanian women had been sterilized in public hospitals located in a mountainous area of the Bocas del Toro province.
Previously, a parliamentary subcommittee visited this Caribbean territory to investigate outbreaks of leishmaniasis affecting children. During its visit, Ana Castillo said that her daughter died giving birth because local institutions denied her medical care.
She also denounced that women who gave birth in the Changuinola and Almirante hospitals could not have children again, while "those who give birth at home, do get pregnant again."
“They are young married women who give birth and the doctors do not allow them to have more than four children. As soon as they have two or three children, they leave them sterile. Why did the doctors do that? They should not make the decision without consulting the mother if she wishes to be sterilized,” the Indigenous woman said according to a transcript of the parliamentary subcommittee report.
During an appearance by Deputy Minister of Health Ivette Berrio on Feb. 15, Chandler wanted to obtain a clear response from the health authority regarding the sterilizations that would have occurred in public hospitals. This, however, was not possible because lawmaker Kayra Harding abruptly interrupted the session.
Although the Health Ministry vowed to investigate the complaints, this institution stated that "there is no evidence" of forced sterilization in the hospitals' records.