Russian psychiatric patient says she was self-assumedly sterilized

A patient undergoing treatment in a Moscow region psychiatric facility on Tuesday accused her doctors of forcing her and fellow patients to be sterilized, in what rights groups said was just one example of rampant abuses in Russia's mental institutions. Oksana Koluzatova, a patient at the Psychoneurological Asylum No. 5, said doctors in 2002 drugged her and made her sign a document agreeing to sterilization.

"They gave me a (sleep) injection ... and then they woke me up and gave the paper to sign," Koluzatova, 28, said at a news conference. Koluzatova, who already has three children, said doctors then forcibly took her to the operating room and sterilized her, the AP informs.

Psychiatric abuses were rampant in the Soviet era, when dissidents were proclaimed mad and locked in grim psychiatric institutions where they often were drugged to unconsciousness or even death.

Sofiya Dorinskaya, the head of the Citizens' Commission for Human Rights, a group focusing on fighting psychiatric abuses, said such practices, including sterilization of women for fear they will have mentally ill children, are still common in Russia.

"Sterilization means selection of people," Dorinskaya said. "It is when people with some kind of disabilities are denied the right to have offspring because psychiatrists believe that the transfer of these defective genes will be stopped and the society will be better off this way."

Koluzatova, whose wrists are badly scarred after attempted suicide, said doctors threatened to kill her if she complained about the sterilization. She said she cut her veins so she would be transferred to another hospital.

"I asked for tea, they brought me tea. I broke the (glass) jar and cut the veins first on one and then on my second hand," Koluzatova said.

Prosecutors are now considering Koluzatova's complaint.


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