الثلاثاء , يونيو 16 2020

Virginia eugenics victims win payout

Virginia operated a policy of eugenics for decadesThe state of Virginia operated a policy of eugenics for decades

Lawmakers in the US state of Virginia have agreed to pay compensation to people who were forcibly sterilised by the authorities decades ago.

Victims will be paid $25,000 (£16,000) following a legal fight by campaigners.

Along with more than 30 other US states, Virginia once operated a sterilisation program for individuals deemed undesirable or mentally unsound.

More than 8,000 Virginians were operated on between the 1920s and 1970s.

The state’s programme was said to be the model for the Nazi eugenics policies introduced by Adolf Hitler when he aspired to create a master race.

More than a fifth of those sterilised in Virginia were African Americans.

Two-thirds were women, many of whom went in for other procedures and were unaware of what was happening to them, reports the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan.

Campaigners who waged a three year battle for justice say there are only 11 known surviving victims of the program.

‘They done me wrong’

The compensation deal was welcomed by 87-year-old Lewis Reynolds, one of those Virginians affected by the policy.

“I think they done me wrong,” he told the Associated Press news agency. “I couldn’t have a family like everybody else does. They took my rights away.”

Under eugenics programmes implemented across the US, about 65,000 Americans were sterilised in 33 states.

Virginian is the second state, after North Carolina, to approve a compensation package for victims who are still alive.

In 2013, North Carolina legislators agreed to pay $50,000 to surviving victims – thought to number about 1,800.

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