Debilitated Lifeworlds: Women’s Narratives of Forced Sterilization as Delinking from Reproductive Rights


Peasant women in Cajamarca, Peru, who were sterilized by the Peruvian government in the 1990s, narrate their experiences of reproductive abuse using Andean medical principles of debilidad and fuerza (debility and strength) (Tapias 2006). In their narratives, many describe a generalized sense of loss of strength resulting from the procedure. This contrasts with the reproductive rights framework’s emphasis on infertility as the main harm. In this article, I ponder the dissonance between these two frameworks and propose the concept of debilitated lifeworlds as decolonial feminist delinking (Mignolo 2007) from human fertility‐centric narratives. This concept is methodologically significant as a decolonial attunement to local motifs to talk about abuse and for weaving a constellation of embodied, emotional, social, and family harms. This article contributes to the emerging field of “decolonial reproductive studies” (Smietana et al. 2018: 117).