‘The Sterilisation of Girls with Disability: The State Responsibility to Protect Human Rights’ provides an in-depth ethical and legal examination of Australia’s failure to enact legislation to protect the human rights of young women and girls with disability in relation to forced and coerced sterilisation. The paper was researched and written by WWDA Youth Network Manager and Project Officer, Cashelle Dunn as part of her studies at University of Melbourne.


Australia has binding international human rights obligations to enact in legislation the protection of all children from forced sterilisation in all cases that are not life-threatening. Yet the practice continues in direct violation of human rights.  This paper concentrates on girls under the age of 18 who are legally, forcibly sterilised for their ‘best interest’. It is clear that the parents who seek sterilisation of their daughter are struggling. But do parents or the State have the right to force a life-altering elective surgery onto a child? Or does she have the right to retain her bodily integrity and develop her womanhood? The State believes that enough laws and procedures have been implemented to protect the child and comply with human rights law. However, the condemnation from United Nations bodies has established an adverse view. Perhaps, in reality, Governments are choosing the cheapest options over their obligations to protect and respect human rights.


Text © 2018 Cashelle Dunn.
Design © 2018 Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA).