Kenya: HIV-Positive Women to Sue Government for Forced or Coerced Sterilization
Monday, September 17, 2012 12:20 PM

Lawyers from the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN) are analyzing cases featured in a 2012 report entitled Robbed of Choice, written by the African Gender and Media Initiative. All of the women interviewed by KELIN so far are HIV-positive and report being pressured to undergo sterilization or being subjected to sterilization unknowingly.

According to the Open Society Foundations, illegal sterilization of HIV-positive women is a global problem that results in grief, social isolation, family conflict, and abandonment. Tactics such as force, incentives, misinformation, or intimidation to compel the women to have the procedure have been documented by the Open Society Foundations in Namibia, South Africa, Venezuela, Chile, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. A July ruling by a court in Namibia found that state hospitals there illegally sterilized 3 HIV-positive women. However, the judge did not find sufficient evidence to prove that it was a discriminatory practice against HIV-positive women.

The Kenyan Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board has been asked to investigate the cases and disciplinary measures could involve criminal charges. KELIN lawyers hope to be able to prove the link between a woman’s HIV status and the incidence of forced or coerced sterilization.

 Compiled from: Migiro, Katy, HIV-positive Kenyan women plan to sue over discrimination, TrustLaw, UN Wire (17 September 2012).