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Investigation Demanded Into Alleged Namibia Sterilization

Namibian National Society for Human Rights

The executive director of Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) told VOA his group, together with other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will soon launch a campaign to protest the alleged sterilization of infected HIV women.

Phil ya Nangoloh said the government should “immediately” embark on a thorough investigation into the allegations and take decisive steps to prevent future occurrences.

“Assuming the allegations are true, and it looks like they are, our reaction, of course, will be that of shock and disbelief and, hence, we condemn that severely,” he said.

Three Namibian ladies diagnosed with HIV are suing the Ministry of Health seeking compensation after accusing state doctors and nurses of sterilizing them without their consent. The women were undergoing medical treatment following their diagnosis.

They are demanding about $130,000 in compensation for their ordeal.

Rights activist Nangoloh described the allegations as grave.

“We are generally involved because this is a case within our mandate. It is a case for human rights where very serious allegations of human rights (violations) are being made. So, we are involved from that point of view,” Nangoloh said.

He also said that about 15 women have been documented to have come forward to make similar allegations against the Namibia health ministry.

Several women organizations say they will continue with their protest march Wednesday to highlight the plight of women who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. They described the allegations as barbaric acts which should be punished to the full extent of the law.

Nangoloh said the rights of the women were grossly violated.

“It shows that human rights are not respected and this is with regards to the rights to privacy, the rights to sexual health and reproduction, and the rights to equality. These women have been sterilized and they have been discriminated (against) because of their social status being HIV positive. But, I think the court case will be a good example for other women to come forward,” Nangoloh said.

Officials of President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s government were not immediately available for comment after repeated attempts.