South Africa’s Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has released a report on investigations that reveals that at least 48 women with HIV were sterilized without their consent.
The revelations on Monday showed that some of the women were pressured into acquiescence. Some public hospitals were cited in the scandal. The CGE added that “forced sterilization subjects women to inhumane conditions and torture.”
This is a culmination of a five-year probe triggered by two civil rights bodies in the country.
The civil rights organizations had found that doctors in some state hospitals forcibly sterilized women about to have Caesarean sections. The doctors told the women that carriers of HIV did not need to have babies since they risked they and their babies’ health.
The report added that “in some instances, complainants were given the forms while they were in extreme labor pain and were told that they would not receive medical assistance until they had signed the forms.”
A complainant informed investigators she was told: “You HIV people don’t ask questions when you make babies. Why are you asking questions now? You must be closed up because you HIV people like making babies, and it just annoys us. Just sign the forms.”
According to the CGE, some investigations are inconclusive because patient files have now mysteriously disappeared.
It is not clear to the commission how widespread and how long the practice went on in South African hospitals.