Africa

Namibian HIV-positive women sterilised without consent

Sapa-AFP

A court has ruled that three HIV-positive women were sterilised without informed consent but dismissed claims it was done because of their HIV status.

The three plaintiffs are part of a group of 16 women who are each suing the Namibian government for 1.2-million Namibian dollars for allegedly sterilising them without their consent because they are HIV-positive. (AFP)

"The first claim by the three plaintiffs, [that] they were sterilised without their consent, succeeded," Judge Elton Hoff said.

But the claim that "they were sterilised because they were HIV-positive, is dismissed."

The three plaintiffs are part of a group of 16 women who are each suing the Namibian government for 1.2-million Namibian dollars for allegedly sterilising them without their consent because they are HIV-positive.

The sterilisation procedures were conducted between 2005 and 2009.

In the first such court case in Africa, one of the women recounted during the hearing how while in labour, she was approached by a nurse who handed her a document to sign, saying the form would authorise a Caesarean section.

The woman, whose name has not been divulged at the court's order, said she only found out later that she had been sterilised when she overheard two nurses discussing her case in the hospital ward.

She claimed the nurses had explained she had been sterilised because she carried the HIV virus, which infects about 13% of Namibians aged 15 to 49. – Sapa-AFP

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