Namibia HIV Women Sue Over Forced Sterilization
June 2, 2010
Three HIV-positive Namibian women are suing their country's health ministry after being sterilized, they charge, without their consent.
Protests in support of the women are being held at the High Court in advance of the hearing, scheduled for Friday. Protesters also are demonstrating at hospitals in Katutura and north of the capital city of Windhoek, where the sterilizations are alleged to have taken place.
The women, who say the sterilizations unfairly discriminated against them and violated their right to have children, are seeking US $130,000 as compensation.
"HIV-positive women are holding the health system accountable for the wrongs done to them," said Veronica Kalambi, an official with the Women's Health Network.
Government officials, who say the sterilizations were done with consent, will challenge the claims. The ministry has not done any intentional harm to the women, health ministry spokesperson Gladys Kamboo said.
HIV-positive women who seek care at a hospital are sometimes advised to undergo sterilization, said Legal Assistance Center representative Amon Ngavetene. LAC, a rights group representing the women, says it has documented 15 cases of alleged sterilization among HIV-positive women since 2008.
"We want a health system based on human rights which promotes equality for all," Ngavetene said.
UNAIDS estimates that about one-fifth of Namibia's adults, or 210,000 people, are HIV-positive. Women account for about 55 percent of the nation's adults with HIV.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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