Celebrating Human Rights Day: South African HIV positive women stand up against forced sterilisation

Celebrating Human Rights Day: South African HIV positive women stand up against forced sterilisation

- Despite the Constitution protecting the rights of those infected with HIV and AIDS, a lot of people experience unequal treatment

- Several women have stood up to speak about how they were forced to face one indignity after another

- These women had been forced to get sterilised procedures based on their HIV and AIDS statuses, but they are standing up for countless more women, who are too afraid to stand up for themselves

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Wednesday, 21 March, marks Human Rights Day in South Africa, reminding us of the rights we have as citizens of this beautiful country.

But, some people have faced situations that violated their rights as South Africans. Briefly.co.za learned of 48 women between the years of 1986 to 2014 that were forced to undergo sterilisation surgery because they have HIV and AIDS.

Now, with aid from Her Rights Initiative, Oxfam, and the Women’s Legal Centre, these 48 women have finally come forward to lodge a formal complaint.

The ladies from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal want people to understand the indignity and abuse of forced sterilisation. And, to finally say enough is enough- “My body, my rights, my womb, my choices!”.

Women in and Beyond the Global reported these ladies are the voice of many women living with HIV and AIDS, who have been forced to suffer one indignity after another.

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One women who had to experience the forced sterilisation was Zanele, who was 19 at the time of the procedure, and she was 38 weeks pregnant.

“As I was thinking about it, [the doctor] turned to this lady who was with her, I think she was an intern, and said we [referring to HIV-positive women] were a problem to the hospitals, we give birth all the time … at that time I felt guilty as a patient. Then [the doctor] came back and asked me if I wanted to be sterilised and I said yes.”

A study conducted by Dr Ann Strode from the University of KwaZulu-Natal on what the impact of forced sterilisation was on women, suggested that the practise had stopped after 2006.

However, more than half of the 48 women had the procedures done after 2006.

The stigmas surrounding women with HIV and AIDS are responsible for the wrongful actions against them. They are viewed as failed citizens, who can not have children.

And, they are treated this way despite the constitutional law protecting their rights. It's not policy of the Health Department that women with HIV and AIDS should be sterilised.

These 48 women represent all other HIV and AIDS females who have faced discrimination and unequal and violent practices.

So now they ask, "“End this violation on women’s bodies!", adding "My body, my rights, my womb, my choices.”

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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