Victims of forced sterilisation from allegedly 15 public health facilities in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng are taking the Department of Health to court.

The women are accusing the Department of Health and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) of not taking them seriously. This after the CGE issued an investigative report on how 48 HIV positive women were forced to sign consent forms under the guise that they were approving a caesarean section, when instead nurses and doctors were sterilising them.

The GCE released a report which recommended amongst other things that the Health Department compensate these women and respond to other recommendations within three months, nine months ago.

The department and the CGE have met, however, there has been no direct contact with the affected women.

Commission for Gender Equality wants action against forceful sterilisation:

The Health Professionals Council of South Africa and the South African Nursing Council who were also required to account for their member’s actions, have responded to the CGE. However, the Health Department has failed to meet the deadline.

CGE spokesperson Jabu Baloyi says, “When we placed them in mora it was telling them that we’ve got all the intentions to go to court now. On Friday last week the Department of Health represented by its new DG promised to submit all the information by Friday, they duly did that. Almost all the recommendations are being implemented and the commission is monitoring the progress thereof.”

Lawyers representing the women say it is unconstitutional, inexplicable and outrageous for women to be forcefully sterilised in South Africa for being HIV positive. The legal team led by Advocate Dali Mpofu and Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi met with the victims this week.

Advocate Ngcukaitobi says, “So our approach to the law is to combine those three otherwise the law is a bankrupt concept, if it doesn’t combine poverty, gender as well as historical imbalance in this country…”

“Somebody gave me a copy of the CGE report on forced sterilisation and I felt the whole thing was outrageous, some of these things are totally inexplicable but the government thinks it can do them because it’s dealing with people who have no legal defences. The entire idea is totally outrageous because it’s just inexplicable how something like this can happen in post-apartheid South Africa,” says Ngcukaitobi.

Gender HIV Sterilisation