This article examines Finnish eugenic sterilization policy from 1935 to 1970 and how the nation dealt with the largest minority group in the land, the Gypsies. When the sterilization law was first created (1935) and amended (1950), it was largely thought to be a law that applied equally to everyone. Now we know that, in practice, it targeted women and the lower social classes. In light of the existing data, the article argues that the law had somewhat of an ethnic bias: Gypsy women were over-represented among those who received coercive sterilization orders, especially among those whose application for sterilization was favourably received by the Finnish Medical Board. There are also some traits that indicate that Gypsy women may have been compelled to apply for sterilization. Particularly problematic applications were those sent by female prisoners: how voluntary was such an application for sterilization when sent from prison?


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 109-139
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.