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GCWA: The GCWA commends the ICW Global for its leadership and joins its call to Namibian authorities to uphold the SRHR of women in all their diversity

16 Mar, 2014
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By: GCWA
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The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS commends the International Community of Women Living with HIV for its leadership and joins its call to Namibian authorities to uphold the sexual and reproductive rights of women in all their diversity, and to put an end to forced or coerced sterilization of women living with HIV

Since 2008, lawsuits against the government of Namibia have been filed for sterilizing women living with HIV, without their consent. In 2012, the Namibian High Court ruled in favour of three women living with HIV who had been sterilized without their consents in public State hospitals, and who later filed a legal complaint against the government. After a positive ruling in favour of these three women by the High Court, the government lodged an appeal. The appeal’s final hearing is scheduled for this Monday, March 17, 2014 at the Supreme Court.  

The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS(GCWA) comments the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) for its leadership in highlighting that forced or coerced sterilizations are serious human rights violations.

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has reaffirmed through its Resolution on Involuntary Sterilization and the Protection of Human Rights in Access to HIV Services, the obligation of State Parties to the African Charter to protect the rights of women living with HIV by putting in place mechanisms to ensure that women living with HIV are not subjected to coercion, pressure or undue inducement by healthcare providers and / or institutions in order to secure consent for sterilization or other medical procedures. 

This resolution is aligned with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that no one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  This Convention calls on States to adopt all the necessary measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care. 

The GCWA stands in solidarity with women living with HIV who have been subjected to these injustices, and joins its voice with the International Community of Women Living with HIV.  The GCWA joins ICW in calling on the Namibian authorities to uphold the crosscutting principles of human rights as universal, inalienable, interdependent, indivisible, equal and non-discriminatory.

 

The GCWA urges the Government of Namibia, and the Ministry of Health, to protect and uphold women’s sexual and reproductive rights as they are enshrined in international human rights law and to withdraw their appeal after the High Court’s ruling in favour of the three women living with HIV who were forcedly sterilized. The GCWA urges the Namibia Medical Society to adopt the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) guidelines on female contraceptive sterilization, ensuring that these guidelines are implemented both in public and private health centres, including maternity hospitals; and to provide redress for all women who have experienced sterilization without their informed consent.  

The GCWA echoes the petition launched by the ICW Global, to express support for women living with HIV in Namibia, and urges the international community; key stakeholders in the fight against HIV, discrimination and violence; civil society organizations and the general public to stand in solidarity and sign the petition.