HIV Positive Women Forced Into Sterilization Fight for Their Rights in Court

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HIV Positive Women Forced Into Sterilization Fight for Their Rights in Court

Monday October 19th 2009 – Windhoek, Namibia. In 2007 the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS began documenting the forced and coerced sterilization of HIV positive women. This week 3 of the 15 women who have been sterilized by the Namibian government will have their day in court. They are the first of many brave positive women who have stepped forward to fight for their reproductive rights in court.

"The sterilization of HIV positive women is a gross violation of positive women's reproductive rights," said Veronica Kalambi, ICW member. "There is a widespread stigma around positive women having children – the discrimination and violations faced by positive women discourage positive women from accessing necessary services and getting the care that we need."

ICW's research documents cases of sterilization and demonstrates the emotional and real impact on the lives of positive women as they come to realize that they have been sterilized. These extreme violations of rights impact the ability of positive women to trust the health care system and health care setting. ICW is part of a movement of NGOs who have launched a campaign on behalf of the positive women who have been sterilized called "Non-Negotiable: My body, My Womb, My Rights."

"It is my right to decide when I want children," said Beri Hull, Global Advocacy Officer at the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS. "These violations are rooted in a broad range of violations that HIV positive women face when they seek care for pregnancy related services. We demand equality and non discrimination in our health care settings."

The sterilization of HIV Positive Women violates numerous human rights as guaranteed in the constitution of Namibia as well as regional and international human rights instruments. These include the right to bodily integrity, to live free from discrimination, and right to equality.

For more information about these cases please contact the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS.

Contact information
Veronica Kalambi Beri Hull
ICW/Namibian Women's Health Network Global Advocacy Officer
Phone: +264 61 220 117 +1-202-397-8488
Email: namibiawhn@gmail.com beri@icw.org

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The International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW) is the only international network run for and by HIV positive women. ICW was founded in response to the desperate lack of support, information and services available to women living with HIV worldwide and the need for these women to have influence and input on policy development.