In the 1990s, 272,000 women and 21,000 men were sterilised in Peru. After almost 20 years of being repeatedly silenced and denied justice, a research project led by the University of Bristol helped to ensure that victims’ voices could finally be heard.
The ‘Tying Quipu’s Key Knots’ project worked with in-country local groups, creative technologists, documentary film-makers and international organisations to develop innovative solutions to empower women in rural settings in Peru to raise awareness of the sterilisation programme.
The project created a ‘living documentary’ using new and old technologies to connect communities who were previously politically, geographically and digitally marginalised. A telephone line allowed communities around the world to share their stories, offering support by listening and responding to each others problems.
An online archive of women’s testimonies and stories has been listened to in over 100 countries globally and remains a source of inspiration for international media outlets. In 2015 after two shelved inquiries, the Peruvian judicial authorities announced a new investigation into this forced sterilisation programme, and established a registry for survivors to officially log their experiences.
“They didn't expect illiterate, indigenous women would speak up. They were wrong. They spoke”. Giulia Tamayo, Human Rights Lawyer and Activist.
Since inception, the project has worked with independent media producers from around the world, helping to support the UK’s international reputation for documentary film-making.