Statement by Ms Thandi Nontenja: UDEMWO Secretary General

The United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) lambasts at the recent allegations against the doctors and nurses who are performing involuntary sterilisation without consent of those involved taking advantage of women living with HIV/ AIDS.

As South African women, we are surprised and offended by the latest scandal in private and public hospitals of our country.

UDEMWO feels that our rights as women have been once again violated and taken for granted by the health officials. No one has the right to perform such a heinous procedure without the consent of the patient; the fact that the women are living with the virus does not mean they are less human.

Health officials’ duties are to help the community and not to make them feel less human; living with HIV/ AIDS should not be seen as death sentence to those infected and affected by it.

UDEMWO is aware that this is happening both in public and private health care centres and 48 cases of involuntary sterilisation have been documented so far.

We are calling on the South African Human Right Commission, Commission for Gender Equality and the Department of Health to investigate these allegations. The doctors and nurses who are found guilty must be severely punished for their inhumane and unethical behaviour.

South Africans were made to believe that there is medication for prevention of mother to child transmission. What happened to that medication or that prevention? Why these sterilisation of the infected women.