Investigate claims of forced sterilization

Claims that HIV-positive women are being sterilised in health facilities against their will or without their knowledge are sad indeed.

Already, as we report today, controversy has erupted over claims by 13 HIV-positive women that they were sterilised against their wish. There are now signs that the matter could end up in court as one public facility has threatened to sue a non-governmental organisation that published the claims.

Women have claimed they have been bullied, blackmailed or tricked into having their uterine tubes tied to permanently prevent them from having any more children. Another 27 said they were talked into having tubal ligations because they have HIV – the virus that causes Aids

The claims were first made late last year, but again came to light last week after the release of Robbed of Choice, a report prepared by members of the African Gender and Media Initiative.

If indeed these claims are true, the perpetrators must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. It is the basic right of every Kenyan, whether HIV positive, to choose whether to be sterilised.

That HIV-positive women are forced into accepting to undergo the procedure is wrong and borders on infringement of their rights. Again, these could erode the gains the country has made so far in the fight against HIV/Aids as there are concerns forced sterilisation could see women avoid reproductive health facilities.

We commend Public Health minister Beth Mugo for ordering investigation into the matter. Yes, sterilising a patient because she is HIV-positive is a crime and those behind it must face the law.

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Sterlisation HIV-positive women