ARASA commends the Namibian Supreme Court on its judgment in the case of women living with HIV sterilised without informed consent

Posted by Mutaleni on November 4, 2014

ARASA commends the Namibian Supreme Court on its judgment in the case of women living with HIV sterilised without informed consent

4 November 2014, Windhoek, Namibia -- The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) welcomed the judgment by the Namibian Supreme Court, which affirmed the decision made by the High Court in July 2012 that three women living with HIV were sterilised without informed consent in public hospitals. 

“This judgment represents a victory in the struggle for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV in the region,” said Michaela Clayton, Director of ARASA. “We trust that the judgment will translate into change at the health care provider level where it matters and will shield other women from being violated in this way.”

Toni Hancox, Director of the Legal Assistance Centre, which litigated on behalf of the three women, agreed that this judgment should translate into change at the community level. “We are very pleased with the judgement. This is about vulnerable people having better control over what happens to them. There needs to be proper consent in State hospitals and medical practitioners need to be more cognisant when making these types of decisions,” she said.

Since 2009, ARASA has partnered with the Namibia Women’s Health Network (NWHN) and the Legal Assistance Centre, who spearheaded the litigation, and other civil society organisations in Namibia to promote the ‘My Body. My Womb. My Rights’ campaign - targeted at ending the sterilisation of women living with HIV without informed consent in Namibia.

“We are celebrating because justice has prevailed. The Government of Namibia should compensate the women and accept that a wrong was done,” said Jennifer Gatsi Malet, Director of Namibia Women’s Health Network (NWHN). “Going forward, we want the government to put up notices in all health facilities so that health professionals are informed that they should not sterilise women without their consent and should rather inform them about other forms of family planning including sterilisation.”

 The Supreme Court decision supports a landmark pronouncement for women’s rights by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, which condemned the coercive sterilisation of women living with HIV as a blatant violation of their fundamental rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  

“Let us celebrate today. But let us not forget that there are 15 other cases pending in Namibia and many more cases of sterilisation of women living with HIV without informed consent reported in South Africa, Kenya and other countries in the region,” cautioned Clayton. “Advances in science significantly reduce the risk of transmission from mother to child and there is no acceptable reason for women to be sterilised without their consent.”

 

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Contact:

Sirka Amaambo: Communications Officer

Tel: +264 61 300 381

Mobile:  +27 7880 04803

Email: sirka@arasa.info

 

Felicita Hikuam: Deputy Director

Tel: +264 61 300 381

Mobile:  +264 81 222 3054

Email: felicita@arasa.info

 

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The AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) is a partnership of over 80 civil society organisations working together in 18 countries in Southern and East Africa to promote a human rights based response to HIV and TB. For more information on the partnership please visit: www.arasa.info