North Carolina Urges Sterilization Victims to Come ForwardBy Shantella Y. Sherman-WI Staff Writer
Aug. 08, 2011
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Lele Dunston was only 13 when she gave birth to a son in the Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. She said she was unaware why county officials had visited her mother within a year of her son's birth, or the duress under which her mother was forced to commit her to the home for wayward girls. While Dunston had committed no crime, she was carted off and held for years at the institution. Under North Carolina statute, Dunston was eligible to leave the home only after being surgically sterilized under a platform known as eugenic sterilization.
"They never asked me anything, but later presented documents that I supposedly signed giving them permission to operate on me. It was not my signature. I never signed anything," Dunston said.
Dunston , along with a handful of other sterilization victims recently told their stories during a Eugenics Task Force Listening Session in Raleigh, North Carolina. In all, more than 7,600 men, women and children as young as 10 were sterilized under North Carolina's eugenics laws between 1924 and 1979. Eugenic sterilization laws sought to eliminate unwanted social characteristics from society by ensuring that the poor, the weak, the socially deviant, and the mentally or physically unstable, did not produce children.