A judge rules that Namibia's government sterilized three HIV women without their consent.
WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA (JULY 30, 2012) (REUTERS) -A Namibian court on Monday (July 30, 2012) ruled state hospitals illegally sterilised three HIV-positive women, opening the door for suits from other women who claim they were coerced into the procedure because they were infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
Presiding judge Elton Hoff ruled the three were sterilised without being adequately informed.
"In respect of the first claim, I am of the view that the defendant has failed to such onus to prove that all three plaintives had given informed consent in respective of their sterilisation procedures and the plaintives should succeed in respect of this claim," said Judge Hoff.
However, in this case the judge found no grounds to link the procedure to their HIV status.
"Since the plaintives claim they sterilized because they are HIV positive, I am of the view the onus is on them to prove this, prove this to be the case on a preponderance of probabilities," said Hoff.
Women who were sterilised say they were forced into the procedure to slow down the spread of HIV and AIDS in the southern African country.
"The ruling of course has looked at women who are mostly women on the grassroot, who are illiterate women, who might go in and not be informed, not provide their consent. The ruling says that should stop," said women's rights activist Rosa Nemesis.
The women said they were presented with forms for sterilisation just before and after delivering babies through caesarean sections without being told what they were signing.
According to U.N. data, Namibia has one of the higher rates of HIV infection in the world with HIV prevalence of about 17 percent among pregnant women.