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Namibia

Forced sterilisation trials begin in Namibia

Three landmark trials have begun in the Namibian capital Windhoek after a group of women said they were sterilised by the state without their consent.The women went in for Hiv tests in two public hospitals and, after testing positive, they were allegedly sterilised without their full and informed consent.

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The Legal Assistance Centre, which is representing the women, says it has documented 15 cases of alleged sterilisation in hospitals since Feburary 2008.

Linda Dunba Chicalo, the instructing attorney for the Legal Assistance Centre, says the case has again highlighted the problems people living with Hiv and Aids face.

Linda Dunba Chicalo, Legal Assistance Centre

“Stigma and discrimination is still rife against people living with Hiv and Aids in different sectors – in the workplace, in the medical sector and so forth,” she told RFI after leaving court yesterday. “So it does exist and this is not the first case that deals with Hiv that’s been taken to court.”

Dunba Chicalo says more cases were being reported because people were becoming more aware of their rights.

A campaign against forced sterilisation has also been set up and on Tuesday demonstrators marched from hospital to the court.

“Over 300 women participated in the march in support and in solidarity of the women that were sterilised,” Dunba Chicalo says. “That also includes a number of human rights organisations that are sensitive to the issues of women living with Hiv and Aids.”

Further solidarity marches are planned in South Africa and Zambia and Dunba Chicalo says the test case is of huge significance.

“This is a very important case. It’s going to set a very important precedent for the country and the region as a whole.”

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