JOHANNESBURG, South Africa-- On Monday July 30th, the High Court in Namibia is due to issue its judgment in a landmark case challenging the coerced sterilisation of three HIV-positive women. The three women alleged that they were sterilised without their informed consent in violation of their rights under common law and the Constitution of Namibia.
“This judgment presents the strongest possibility that the Government of Namibia will be held to account for subjecting HIV-positive women to coerced sterilisation,” said Priti Patel, Deputy Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). “Monday’s decision will have far reaching consequences not only for the three women at the heart of this case, but for the many other HIV-positive women who have allegedly been subjected to coerced sterilisation in Namibia and throughout southern Africa.”Background
The case was filed in 2009 after HIV-positive women’s organisations in Namibia documented dozens of cases of coerced sterilisation of HIV-positive women in public hospitals across Namibia. The trial concluded in January 2011.
The case focused on whether the three women gave their informed consent to be sterilised while accessing medical services at a public hospital. The Namibian Government argued that the women did provide informed consent, while the three women disputed this claim.
The three women further argue that sterilising them without their informed consent violated their rights under common law and the Namibian Constitution. In particular, the three women alleged violations of their rights to dignity; to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; to found a family; and to be free from discrimination. They are further asking the court for damages for pain and suffering.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.