Fifty South Africans with HIV sterilized by force

A survey in South Africa reveals that about 50 South African women living with HIV have been forcibly sterilized in South African hospitals.

The survey published Monday was launched in 2015 when two women’s rights organizations approached the Commission for Gender Equality in South Africa (CGE) with 48 documented cases of forced sterilization.

The commission then gathered sworn testimony from complainants reporting the sterilizations. “All the women who filed complaints were black women, the majority of whom were HIV-positive,” said the head of the CGE, Keketso Maema, who is quoted in the report.

All the cases mentioned in the document took place between 2002 and 2015. “As they were about to give birth (…), they were forced or coerced to sign forms which they later learned were consent forms allowing the hospital to sterilize them by various means,” the document says.

Investigators found that hospital staff threatened to refuse medical care to these women if they did not sign these forms.

The Commission concluded that the women were exposed to severe human rights violations and suffered “degrading treatment”. Besides, it accused the hospital staff of failing to fulfill their “duty of care”.

The report has been forwarded to the South African Department of Health, which has declined to comment at this time.

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