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Discrimination Against HIV Positive Women At Heart of Forced Sterilisation

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Thursday, February 27th, 2020
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On 24 February, the Commission for Gender Equality launched its investigative report on the forced sterilisation of women at KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng hospitals. Among numerous horrendous revelations, the report brought to light inadequacies in the country’s healthcare process to obtaining patients’ consent.


In March 2015, Her Rights Initiative and International Community of Women Living with HIV filed a complaint with the South African Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) on behalf of 48 women who had been forcefully sterilised at hospitals in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The CGE conducted its investigations into the complaints between 2016 and 2018, said Commissioner Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng.

“This report highlights amongst other things the gross violation of the rights of South African women through coerced or forced sterilisation,” said Chairperson of the CGE, Tamara Mathebula.

 The report accounted solely for documented cases of forced or coerced sterilisation in the two provinces, with most being from KwaZulu-Natal.

“Forced sterilisation occurs when a person is sterilised without their knowledge, consent or incomplete information. Similarly, coercive conduct is equally concerning,” said Mathebula.

“Forced sterilisation or coerced sterilisation are serious human rights violations as they subject women to inhumane, degrading treatment, indignity and torture.”

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