February 22, 2011
Three Namibian women are suing the government over alleged forced sterilisations, in landmark cases being heard before the Namibian High Court. The women allege they were sterilised without their full and informed consent after being diagnosed HIV positive.
They are being represented by the Legal Assistance Centre and are supported by NGOs working both in Namibia and globally to address the issue of forced and coerced sterilisation of vulnerable women.
The trials follow two years of formal documentation of cases of coerced and forced sterilisation of HIV-positive women in Namibia. The documentation process was often hampered by poorly kept records, deliberate misinformation and the denial of access to medical records.
These cases of forced sterilisation are not alone and reports of women being sterilised against their will have surfaced across sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and South America. These cases are emblematic of continuing systematic discrimination against disenfranchised women.
The High Court heard arguments and submissions from both parties on 27 January 2011. The court has reserved its judgment and the ruling has not yet been handed down. It is being eagerly awaited.