The Quipu Project

Rosemarie Lerner, Sebastian Melo

The Quipu Project

In the 1990s, during his 10-year reign as president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori launched a new family planning programme that resulted in the sterilisation of 272,028 women and 22,004 men in only 4 years.

They were almost exclusively indigenous people living in rural areas. Thousands have claimed this was done without their informed consent. Their stories have taken a long time to emerge because they have almost no means of media representation, often living in isolated villages. Many of them are illiterate or only speak Quechua, therefore they struggle to access the institutions of the Spanish-speaking Peruvian state. It was only after President Fujimori’s resignation in 2000 that the injustices really started to come to light. After almost two decades they are still seeking justice.

Quipus are knotted cords that were used by the Incas and ancient Andean civilisations, to convey complex messages. This interactive documentary project is a contemporary interpretation of this system. Through a specially established phone line connected to this website, the testimonies of around 150 sterilised people have already been collected. We expect that the number of voices will continue to grow and connect, building a community around this common issue.

The aim of the Quipu Project is to shine a light on the sterilisations, creating a collective memory archive of this case. Our intention is that these stories are never forgotten, that these abuses will never be repeated. We are working in partnership with Amnesty International to support their Against Their Will campaign, and in collaboration with local women’s organizations who hope to use this archive in their fight for recognition and reparation.