Updated 03 November 2014

Namibia rules on HIV forced sterilisation case

The Supreme Court of Namibia has ruled that the forced sterilisation of three HIV-positive women is a violation of their rights...


Namibia's government violated the rights of three HIV-positive women when it had them sterilised without their consent, the country's Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The court affirmed the high court's ruling in 2012 that the government had subjected the women to coercive sterilisation, the Namibian Women's Health Network (NWHN) and Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) said in a joint statement.

The two organisations had been supporting the women through their legal battle.

The matter would now return to the high court where an assessment of the damages would be done and compensation decided.

NWHN director Jennifer Gatsi Mallet welcomed the ruling, but said the three cases were only the "tip of the iceberg".

"We have documented dozens of cases of other HIV-positive women who have been forcibly sterilised. The government needs to take active steps to ensure all women subjected to this unlawful practice get redress," she said.

SALC deputy director Priti Patel said the ruling would affect other African countries.

"This decision sends a clear message that governments throughout Africa must take concrete actions to end this practice," she said.

Read more:
HIV+ and sterilised?
Over 2.7 million South Africans on antiretrovirals
AFSA opposes paid sterilisation for HIV+ South African women

Image: Healthcare and medicine concept - female hands holding red AIDS awareness ribbon from Shutterstock



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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

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