HIV-Positive Namibian Women Suing Government for Forced Sterilization

At least fifteen HIV-positive women in Namibia who were forcibly sterilized are now suing the government. According to the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW), these cases represent a larger group of at least forty Namibian women who have been made infertile against their will (see PDF of report).

Cases documented by the ICW indicate that the women were coerced into signing documents consenting to their sterilization. The women were frequently asked to sign the forms just minutes prior to giving birth. Regarding these documents, Namibian ICW coordinator Jennifer Gatsi-Mallet said, “They were in pain, they were told to sign, they didn’t know what it was. They thought that it was part of their HIV treatment. None of the women knew what sterilization was, including those from urban areas, because it was never explained to them,” according to the Guardian UK. The Namibian ministry of health insists that these procedures were legal since consent was obtained.

The ICW, partnering with the Legal Assistance Centre, plans to bring at least two of the cases to trial by the end of the year.


The International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS 3/09, Guardian UK 6/22/09, Inter Press Service News Agency 6/24/09, IRIN 6/29/09

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