The Quipu project is a new interactive media documentary that I have been introduced to recently, through college. It gives a voice to the impoverished and violated women and men of Peru who were forcibly sterilized throughout the 1990’s under the ruling of president Alberto Fujimori.
In the 1990’s the Peruvian government released a new and improved health care and family planning scheme for its citizens which included voluntary sterilisation and birth control. This propaganda was glorified as a new form of health care which feminists welcomed with open arms since it gave women the choice to do with their bodies what the wished. The wider community also accepted this because it was an effort to reduce overall poverty in Peru.
As we know now, it was not as ‘voluntary’ and revolutionary as it was first advertised. Considering the stories of these people and investigating what really happened is truly heart breaking. You can see that when the people signed up for this new health scheme if they came from a rural, impoverished area they were sent for sterilisation often with no consent given. The consent was often manipulated or in many cases not obtained at all. There are accounts of people being sterilised without their knowledge while in hospital for another procedure.
After 20 years off suffering in silence these men and women have been given an opportunity to speak up and have their voices be heard. The Quipu project has a website like I have never seen before. The set-up is truly fantastic. Initially you’re on their homepage which gives you a quick synopsis of what it is all about. Afterwards you can watch the documentary and find out all the background and motivation for this project. And then, my favorite part, you see where the name ‘Quipu’ Comes from. A quipu, or knot-record (also called khipu), was a method used by the Incas and other ancient Andean cultures to keep records and communicate information.
The Quipu project uses this ancient form of record keeping as the basis of the website. You’re led onto a page that has a digital Quipu on screen. Each knot has a different colour, each colour represents a different part of a person’s story.
- Orange is the sterilization programme
You hear about how this health system was seen as a positive step forward for the Peruvian people, you hear about how this provided hope for the poor and starving. They thought it was a step towards reducing national poverty.
- Red is going through the operation
You hear stories about women who were held down to an operating table by 4 different members of medical staff whilst they conducted this unconsented sterilisation whilst the woman was screaming for mercy.
- Blue is the life they’re left with post operation
You hear the pain that these people carry around with them every single day since the surgery because proper medical precautions were not taken.
- Green is why they are searching for justice
Listen to about what these men and women need to help improve their future and how can you get involved.
Unfortunately, it is not only Peru that is effected by acts like these. Tragedies like this occur in third world countries all the time by dictators and fascists and we let them go completely unaddressed. It is horrible to look at the past and pity what suffering they’ve been through and do nothing to stop it. We should be taking action for the future and take something like the Quipu project as a motivator for the future.
Please go look at the Quinpu project yourself and see how amazing this website really is at https://interactive.quipu-project.com/#/en/quipu/intro