Hospital Sit-In Attracts Nurses’ Attention

A group of women who protested at the Katutura State Hospital Antenatal Clinic this morning were caught off-guard when they received support from nurses working at the clinic.

The protesters, who came to demonstrate against the alleged sterilization of HIV positive women in state hospitals, were surprised by the cooperation of the nurses at the clinic who listened to the message of patient’s rights and accepted piles of leaflets to distribute to patients.

The couple dozen women, who were demonstrating in solidarity with three women who were bringing their court case to the High Court of Namibia, also distributed information on the right to health to various patients seeking services at the Antenatal Clinic.

The women’s action was in solidarity with the ongoing court cases at the High Court of Namibia. At the court, three women have sued government for alleged forced or coercive sterilization without their consent.

The Katutura State Hospital sit-in also attracted a number of onlookers. A man in his late thirties whose wife just delivered a baby said that, “this is very wrong, it is a violation against women’ rights and it’s a shame to the nation.”

Some of the women who were demonstrated were interviewed.

Nangula Sheetekela Petrus a group leader of “Together we can make it” support group expressed her concerned.

“We are here at the antenatal clinic because we want the nurses to know that what they did is wrong (the alleged forced sterilisation of HIV women) and this should come to an end.” She also stated that, “the nurses should explain to the people in their mother tongue what sterilisation is. Then the women can understand before the operation is done.”

“There is lack of communication between the health workers and patients which need to be improved,” said Mrs. Petrus.

Another support group leader Stella !Gontes from Tobias Ijogo of Okahandja Park said that there is no communication in the hospitals and the people don’t really understand what sterilization is.

The group leader Veronica Kalambi said that she was happy with the campaign and protest. However Miss Kalambi said that, “we are here because it is at the antenatal where everything starts and right information needs to be communicated.”

Miss Kalambi said she was impressed that the nurses working at the came out, acknowledged the protesters’ presence, and that the nurses said that they have heard the message and will pass it on.

– article contributed by Eunice Mbewe, media studies student, University of Namibia. photo by Mark Nonkes

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What now?

Women and baby marching for an end to forced sterilization

Women and baby marching for an end to forced sterilization

As we have already noted, the case has been postponed until 24 November. In November the lawyers will be arguing about a specific legal matter. Namely, the government is claiming that according to a specific law, the Public Services Act, anyone suing the government has to bring their case to court within a year of the action happening. So in our case they are saying that the women had to file their case in court within a year of having been sterilized. But we are saying that that only applies to public employees suing the government and not to people alleging human rights and constitutional violations. And that for cases like ours we should have three years to bring the case. I know this sounds like legal technicalities but this has tremendous implications for not only our case but for anyone in Namibia who wants to hold the government to account for violating their human and constitutional rights.

Despite the delay in the case, we are going to continue with raising the issue and our campaign to ensure that the coerced sterilization of HIV positive women ends. Keep checking back regularly as we plan further events

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March and case to start today

The case of three HIV positive women who were allegedly sterilized without their consent at public hospitals in Namibia is scheduled to start in the Namibian High Court this morning.  The cases are currently to end on the 23 October.  It is unclear whether the case will in fact start this morning but we will keep you updated.

Before the case starts, the campaign has organized a march.  The details can be found here.

Press release: March tomorrow

Press Statement
Embargoed for 19 October 2005
Windhoek, October 19 2005

On 20 October, concerned citizens and civil society organisations in Windhoek marched together in protest of the alleged sterilisation of women living with HIV in public health facilities in Namibia. In 2007, reports emerged that women living with HIV, seeking reproductive health services, were allegedly subjected to sterilisation without their full and informed consent in public health facilities in two of the thirteen regions of Namibia.

The march is a component of the “End Forced Sterilisation!”, campaign which aims to raise public awareness of this gross violation of human rights and seek redress for the affected women. It is also a call to the Namibian government to immediately stop the practise of the alleged sterilisation of women living with HIV without their full and informed consent.

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