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Court Rules that Women in Namibia Were Forcibly Sterilized

Court Rules that Women in Namibia Were Forcibly Sterilized


Deciding whether or not to have a child is a decision that for many requires considerable thought. Yes, there are some women who inherently know they do not want to be mothers, but for others the decision is much more complicated. Either way it is a choice.

What if that choice was taken away from you?

Three women in Namibia were robbed of this choice when they were sterilized without their consent after giving birth. The three HIV-positive women sued the state hospitals where they were sterilized, arguing that the procedure was done because of their HIV-positive status.

Yesterday, a Namibian court ruled that while the women were sterilized without their informed consent there was not enough evidence to link the sterilization to their HIV-positive status. Research, however, indicates that doctors working for the state have reported that they were just following government guidelines which require them to sterilize any woman who tests positive for HIV. The government on the other hand denies such a policy exists.

Being forcibly sterilized in a country like Namibia carries greater implications for women than the just the physical aspect. Culturally these women are also stigmatized. Being an HIV-positive woman who is also sterilized, doubles the discrimination these women face in their communities.

This case is not unique. The AIDS Law Unit at the Legal Assistance Centre is representing 18 other women who they allege were sterilized without their consent. In addition, another study from the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS and the Namibia Women’s Health Network has uncovered 40 additional cases across the country.

Perhaps with other women coming forward and sharing their stories, a case for discrimination against HIV-positive women can be made in the future.

Related from Care2:

Forced Sterilization Remains Worldwide Concern

How Much Are US Victims of Forced Sterilization Owed?

Is It Ever Ok To Sterilize Someone Without Consent?

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12:01AM PDT on Aug 2, 2012

I heard of recent a American politician say we love Africa, but we do not want Africans! for along time the Whites have been destroying Africa and Africans, my belief is white supremacy is afraid of Africans, my point is although born in London of white parents, I believe the Africans are my ancestors, as I understand Human beings developed in Africa, why would I want my ancestors killed?

6:51PM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

@ Shiela L. “ government has no business limiting this no matter what the circumstances” People have no business breeding irresponsibly, destroying any hope for the planet to recover from the damage done by TOO MANY PEOPLE. If the government has no business protecting the only planet we have for the grandchildren we love so dearly to have a bearable existence, then what the Hell is the business of government supposed to be ? @ Debra G. Of course. Sterilize men too.

2:34PM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

It's irresponsible to have sex and/or reproduce when you have a communicable disease like that. If those women were responsible people, they would have thanked the doctors instead of blaming them for doing what's right.

8:01AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

how tragic

4:00AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

read up on eugenic in switzerland and scandinavia, really shocking stuff to be learned.

1:41AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Very cruel and just not right. Of course I don't think you should be having children if you are HIV Positive anyway. What is wrong with people? Don't we have enough problems and children in this world? But it's up to the woman and NOT the government to decide. This is very wrong and I think happens alot more than we actually know about.

12:34AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Unbelievably cruel to do this to anyone. She should be the one to make that decision not the doctors, Govt etc.

11:49PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

That's cruel and illegal to sterilize women without informing her they may be informed and also the reasons for the procedure the consent should be taken similar procedure should be adopted for men also

11:32PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Well, this is terrible and no woman should be sterilized unless they wish to -- but I think if they were to be really informed of what it means to be HIV positive, they would want to solve that. I don't know, but if I were, there would be more considerations that they should be informed of and offered. Do you know that this is passed on to your child? Do you know that you may not live to take care of either this one or another? Still, the government has no business limiting this no matter what the circumstances. Hard situation and the doctors must not have taken that oath!

8:49PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012


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