Catholic World News News Feature

Brazilian Congressman Accused Of Sterilizing Native Women September 01, 1998

BRASILIA ( - A political scandal ignited in Brazil on Monday after the O Globo newspaper said that a member of the Brazilian Congress sterilized all the women of a native village in exchange for their votes.

Brazilian authorities are currently investigating Roland Labigne, a doctor and congressman accused by a pro-native organization of the massive sterilization of all the women in a Pataxo tribe, making concrete one of his political campaign offerings. In 1994, Labigne promised native women "a method to avoid pregnancies" in exchange for their votes. The National Foundation for the Natives (FUNAI) denounced Labigne because he allegedly did not tell the Pataxo women that tubal ligations were irreversible. "This is a crime in itself, but particularly so if we take into account that the Pataxo are near extinction," FUNAI said.

FUNAI investigations will probe the theory of some Pataxo, who claim that Labigne was sponsored by a group of 240 local landowners that want the land the Pataxo control. Labigne became a congressman in 1994, and will finish his term next October. Even while he faces another judicial investigation by the Health Ministry because of other charges involving malpractice in his clinics, he insisted he did nothing against the law.