Women with HIV fight crushing injustice of forcible sterilisation

South African delegate to Aids 2104 conference tells of bitterness at forced procedure and struggle for rights

July 25, 2014 - The Guardian

by Melissa Davey

When Sthembiso Mthembu was just 22, she was forcibly sterilised.

The South African human rights activist, now 39, had gone to hospital extremely unwell. Doctors diagnosed her with a cervical cyst needing immediate surgery. But they refused to operate unless she also agreed to undergo sterilisation, because she had HIV.

"I knew what my rights were, and I knew I was being violated, but I was very sick, and I needed help," she said.

"So I resigned myself to it, knowing it was completely unjust. When you need assistance, and you need it now… I couldn't use my rights because I needed help. So I had to bargain with my rights."

Mthembu says she will never get over what happened. Continue reading...


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