Sterilisation Causes Woman to Live in Shame

Report from the Sterilisation Court Case
Day 2 – 02 June 2010

As the sterilisation case continued in the High Court of Namibia today, one of the women suing the government for the alleged forced sterilisation said she now lives in shame as she cannot have children anymore.

The woman told the packed court room that people in her culture who cannot bare children while married feel bad and face extensive family pressure to have children with their husband.

“Because of the sterilisation I will have problems with my in-laws,” the woman told the court. “People will be waiting for me to have a child because I’m married…Most of my family members I did not tell them I was HIV positive. It will be difficult to tell my family that I am sterilised when I have not told them I’m HIV positive.”

The woman, whose identity is being protected through a court order, currently has three children. However, after her third child, she says the doctor sterilised her without her consent after she gave birth through a C-section.

“Did anyone discuss the sterilisation with you after the sterilisation was performed while you were still in the hospital?” asked defense counsel Dave Smuts.

“No.” the woman replied.

The woman then told the court that she only became aware that she was sterilised 6 weeks after she went for a follow-up to obtain family planning contraceptives.

“It was then the nurse informed me I would not need contraceptives because I was sterilised. It was the first time I came to learn I was sterilised,” the woman said.

The woman did admit she signed forms that consented to the doctor’s operation. However, the woman stated that the forms were not explained to her. The court also saw evidence that shows the doctor’s signature was not present on the forms of consent.

The case continues tomorrow with cross examination of the woman.

article contributed by Mark Nonkes, communication officer, Legal Assistance Centre & Lone Phineas, media studies student, University of Namibia

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