History August 22, 2017 at 05:00 am

Controversial Clinical Trials That Used Black People as Guinea Pigs

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

Fredrick Ngugi August 22, 2017 at 05:00 am

August 22, 2017 at 05:00 am | History

Sarah Baartman

Sarah Baartman on display in Europe. Photo credit: Pinterest

Sarah Baartman

In the early 1800s, a 20-year-old woman from South Africa called Sarah Baartman was captured and transported to Europe where she, along with another woman from the Khoikhoi ethnic tribe in South Africa, was put on display for a “freak show” attraction.

Despite a major uproar and strenuous legal battles to force the European government to return the women to Africa, the two remained in captivity for what was considered to be scientific studies until they died. After her death, Baartman’s body was dismembered and her sexual organs and brain put on display in the Musee de l’Homme in Paris.


Even though most of the scientific studies done in the early days have played a key role in the development of modern medicine, it must always be remembered that some of them were conducted at the expense of poor black people under the most cold-blooded circumstances.


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