GULISTAN, Uzbekistan — Saodat Rakhimbayeva says she wishes she had died with her newborn baby.
The 24-year-old housewife had a cesarean section in March and gave birth to Ibrohim, a premature boy who died three days later.
Then came a further devastating blow: She learned that the surgeon had removed part of her uterus during the operation, making her sterile. The doctor told her the hysterectomy was necessary to remove a potentially cancerous cyst, while she believes he sterilized her as part of a state campaign to reduce birthrates.
"He never asked for my approval, never ran any checks, just mutilated me as if I were a mute animal," the pale and fragile Rakhimbayeva said through tears while sitting at a fly-infested cafe in this central Uzbek city. "I should have just died with Ibrohim."
According to rights groups, victims and health officials, Rakhimbayeva is one of hundreds of Uzbek women who have been surgically sterilized without their knowledge or consent in a program designed to prevent overpopulation from fueling unrest...