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ICW Files Petitions to Join Kenyan Lawsuit Against Forced and Coerced Sterilization of Women Living with HIV

Released date: 31-Jul-2015

NAIROBI, KENYA- July 30, 2015 — The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) filed two applications on 29 July, 2015 in the High Court of Kenya seeking to be enjoined onto two cases filed by Mr. Allan Maleche on behalf of five women living with HIV who have been unconstitutionally sterilized by way of tubal ligation, the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV & AIDS (KELIN) and the African Gender and Media Initiative (GEM). ICW has been successful in its bid to join Petition 606 of 2014 as the 1st Interested Party while their application to be enjoined in Petition 605 of 2014 will be heard on 2 November 2015.

The sterilization of women living with HIV in Kenya women without their informed consent first sparked outrage in 2012, when a report published by GEM, in partnership with local networks of women living with HIV, titled ‘Robbed of Choice’, described the experiences of 40 women living with HIV who had been forcibly or coercively sterilized due to their HIV positive status. The five women living with HIV have sued Pumwani Maternity Hospital, Marie Stopes International, Medicins Sans Frontieres- France, Marura Maternity & Nursing Home, County Health Officials and the Health Cabinet Secretary for violations of their human rights in two cases filed on 10 December 2014.

ICW has been at the forefront of advocating against the practice of forced and coerced sterilization of women living with HIV and continues to mobilize and document the practice around the world. ICW’s member networks, the Namibian Women’s Health Network and ICW Southern Africa, first identified these violations in Namibia where they filed landmark case on behalf of women living with HIV. ICW Southern Africa along with its partners have also been litigating the issue of forced and coerced sterilization in South Africa.

“The forced and coerced sterilization of women living with HIV around the world is an egregious human rights violation and a part of a systemic pattern of discrimination and violations of sexual and reproductive rights experienced globally by women living with HIV,” said Rebecca Matheson, ICW Global Director.

If enjoined, ICW seeks to provide information on the experiences of women living with HIV around the world, including lived experiences of stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses and on the impacts of forced and coerced sterilization on the lives of women living with HIV.

“The lawsuits filed by Mr. Allan Maleche on behalf of the five women, KELIN and GEM represent a critical opportunity to secure access to justice and defend the human rights of women living with HIV, and there is no doubt that the outcome will have a significant impact on the lives of women living with HIV, in Kenya and around the world” said Sophie Brion, ICW Human Rights Attorney in the ICW Global Office.

ICW is represented in the Kenyan Courts by Carol Odour, LL.B from the Law Firm of Nungo, Odour and Waigwa Advocates.

Helpful Links:

For more information contact:
Sophie Brion (humanrights@iamicw.org)
Human Rights Attorney
International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW)
Florence Anam (advocacy@iamicw.org)
Global Advocacy Manager
International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW)

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