Lessons Learned from Addressing the Coerced Sterilization of Women Living with HIV in Namibia: A Best Practice Model

The coerced sterilization of women living with HIV is an ongoing, and largely invisible, human rights violation in Namibia, and globally, with documented incidents from South Africa to Chile. In order to develop a best practice model for other countries to use and adapt as a tool to document and address the coerced sterilization of positive women within the framework of advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of positive women, the Namibia Women’s Health Network, AIDS Legal Network, and ATHENA have:

  • Documented and analyzed the approaches used to highlight the practice of coerced sterilization of young women living with HIV in Namibia, including the strategies used to build an evidence base;
  • Documented and analyzed the advocacy responses to this practice;
  • Documented and analyzed the litigation processes from a community perspective pertaining to coerced/forced sterilization of women living with HIV in Namibia;
  • Identified the lessons learned, both successes and challenges; and,
  • Outlined ‘best practice’ as a tool for other countries in the region to share experiences and adapt to national contexts.

Our report reviews how a multi-pronged strategy has been utilized in the Namibian context. Through this multi-pronged strategy, the Namibian experience demonstrates how documentation, advocacy, and litigation processes can all work together to address rights violations, hold the government accountable for what is taking place in its public hospitals, and afford redress to women who have been violated. Further, the report highlights how an issue that is both invisible and contentious can be made visible and be brought to mainstream audiences through community-led documentation and alliance building spearheaded by women living with HIV. Examining the experiences of the Namibia Women’s Health Network and her partners, the report seeks to tell a narrative of empowerment and accountability where, in part, the empowerment comes from seeking accountability.

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Make It Everyone's Business - Report