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Is Zimbabwe Sterilizing Women Living With HIV?

A patient suffering from HIV is taken to a local hospital in Harare, January 31, 2012.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has condemned the coerced sterilization of women living with HIV as a blatant violation of their fundamental rights, which are guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The ACHPR said it followed up on reports of coerced and forced sterilization of women living with HIV in numerous African countries in recent years, including South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia and what it found was appalling.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) said the Commission’s resolution denouncing the practice has been warmly welcomed by activists and civil society groups across the continent.

SALC lawyer Nyasha Chingore, said the Commission’s resolution sends a very clear message to African governments that they must take urgent measures to end the coerced sterilisation of women living with HIV in their countries.

The Commission adopted the strongly-worded resolution on involuntary sterilisation and protection of human rights in access to HIV services on November 4 during its 54th ordinary session in Banjul.

The landmark resolution condemned all forms of stigma and discrimination in terms of access to, and provision of, health services in the context of HIV.

It also made it clear that all forms of involuntary sterilisation violated women’s rights to equality and non-discrimination, dignity, liberty and security of the person, and freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as the right to the highest attainable physical and mental health as enshrined in regional and international human rights instruments.