Govt criticised for lack of action on forced sterilisation of HIV-positive women

In February last year, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) found that complainants were not provided with adequate knowledge on the sterilisation procedure before being asked to consent.

Her Rights Initiative and Positive Women’s Network believe that by not addressing the issue of forced sterilisation, the government continues failing HIV-positive women in South Africa whose rights have been violated for so long. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - A year after the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) released a report into the forced sterilisation of women living with HIV, rights organisations said that there had been little action from government.

In February last year, the commission found that complainants were not provided with adequate knowledge on the sterilisation procedure before being asked to consent.

A report stated that this violated their right to information.

READ: CGE concerned that forced sterilisation of HIV-positive women widespread in SA

Sethembiso Mthembu, founder of the Her Rights Initiative, said that the report highlighted that HIV-positive women were subjected to cruel, torturous, inhumane and degrading treatment at the hands of trusted medical practitioners.

She said that women shared the conditions under which consent was given and a picture of a highly unethical process began to emerge.

"This includes persistent pressure from doctors and other healthworkers that they must sterilise due to their HIV status. If the women said 'no, I do not want to be sterilised', this was overlooked."

Mthembu said that despite the organisation and the Positive Women's Network's consistent attempts to seek justice for forced sterilisation victims, there had been little action from government.

"We have conducted research, lobbied but none of that has led to any action from the government to bring possibly sterilised women justice."

The organisations said that justice delayed was justice denied.

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