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'Forced' sterilisation of HIV women violates rights

Women's advocacy groups are lodging a formal complaint against the "coerced" sterilisation of HIV-infected women, saying it defies state policy.

Three women’s rights advocacy groups have lodged a formal complaint with the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) protesting the “ongoing forced/coerced sterilisation of women living with HIV in South Africa”.

Speaking at a media event on Wednesday, representatives from two of the three groups, Her Rights Initiative (HRI) and the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC), argued that forcing HIV-positive women to get sterilised defies state policy and violates their human rights.

The complaint is based on 48 documented cases where HIV-positive women were sterilised without their consent or coerced into signing consent form for sterilisation. These cases reportedly took place in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal between 1986 and 2014.

Zanele* is one of the women whose case was documented. She was only 19 years old when she was “coerced into undergoing sterilisation”. Speaking at the event, she recalled going in for a consultation when she was 38 weeks pregnant. During the consultation her doctor asked her about getting sterilised.

“As I was thinking about it, [the doctor] turned to this lady who was with her, I think she was an intern, and said we [referring to HIV-positive women] were a problem to the hospitals, we give birth all the time … at that time I felt guilty as a patient,” Zanele said. “Then [the doctor] came back and asked me if I wanted to be sterilised and I said yes.”

Coerced while in labour
Zanele’s experience was similar to that of most women in the case studies, which HRI and the University of Kwazulu-Natal Health Economics and HIV Research Division have been documenting since 2011. Most of the women say they were coerced into signing consent papers while they were in labour. Some say doctors refused to help them deliver their babies if they didn’t sign.

According to the Sterilisation Act, healthcare providers must explain to women the process and consequences of sterilisation, and obtain their written consent only after making sure that patients understand what they are signing, said Jody-Lee Fredericks from WLC. 

In most cases “we found that the healthcare workers skipped all those steps and went straight into giving the women a consent form. By the women signing, they felt that legal consent was obtained, when in actual fact it wasn’t,” she said.

Demand investigation
To fix this problem, these advocacy groups demand that the CGE launch an investigation into documented cases of forced and coerced sterilisation. They further call for reforms in laws and training of healthcare workers, and redress for victims of illegal sterilisations. 

Forced and coerced sterilisations are taking place despite the fact that medicine for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) is available, said Ann Strode, a law lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal who was involved in documenting the case studies. 

In the public sector, antiretroviral (ARV) treatment is available to HIV-positive women and their babies to help prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. In South Africa only 2.7% of HIV-positive women giving birth transmit the virus to their babies, according to government estimates. 

Ongoing stigma
The prevalence of illegal sterilisations in light of these existing treatments speaks to the ongoing stigma against women living with HIV, said Sixolile Ngcobo from Oxfam, an international non-governmental organisation which is supporting the complaint. 

“There will be those who will say ‘Why do they want to have babies? Who is going to take care of those babies when they die?’ But the truth is once you are on treatment and you adhere to your treatment you can live a very long life as anyone else.” 

Other countries where allegations of forced or coerced sterilisation have been reported include Namibia, Swaziland and Kenya. Currently five HIV-positive women in Kenya are suing their government and two international non-governmental organisations to seek redress for illegal sterilisations performed on them. Last year the Gauteng Health Department agreed to pay a woman nearly half a million in damages for suffering she endured as a result of forced sterilisation.

http://mg.co.za/article/2015-03-19-forced-sterilisation-of-hiv-women-violates-rights

中大半年派1200安全套


香港文匯報訊(記者 高鈺)香港中文大學新亞書院學生會與「關懷愛滋」 合作,於書院內的自動售賣機放置安全套供學生免費索取,以推廣安全性行為及預防感染性病及愛滋病。計劃推出至今半年,已派出逾1,200個安全套。 中大新亞書院學生會常務幹事鄧曉鋒認為,有關安排可提升學生對安全性行為的意識,亦可預防性病及愛滋病傳播及意外懷孕,若計劃反應理想,有望推廣至全中大校園及其他大專院校。

「關懷愛滋」項目總監張曉華指,年輕人感染愛滋病數字近年有上升趨勢,故預防工作刻不容緩。張曉華以台灣為例,截至去年底 ,全台灣共有約10所大學設有安全套售賣機,並配合一系列預防及教育活動。張認為香港亦可借鏡台灣的做法,在不同院校繼續試行。

同志平權落後 礙吸人才  高盛出櫃高層轟港不及鄰區

【訪問】無論你見到或選擇見不到,同志族群佔香港人口約百分之六,「粉紅經濟」的威力不容小覷。不過,香港職場普遍未見提供同融工作環境,同志因而大花精力於隱藏性傾向,令生產力降低三成。有已出櫃的投行高層批評香港平權政策不及鄰近地區,不利於吸納金融人才。

記者:黃翹恩

金融界工時特長,面對同事客戶的時間遠比家人朋友多,性傾向對工作沒有直接關係,但無形壓力已悄然削弱生產力和士氣。

隱藏性傾向

削生產力

高盛人力資源部執行董事兼高盛亞洲區同志員工網絡聯席主管蔡家聰指出,若工作環境不能給同志員工安全感,致令他們不敢公開身份,「幾悲哀」。以高盛的同志友好環境為例,有同志員工敢在公司公開身份,下班後卻依然躲在櫃中。

早於大學時出櫃的高盛人力資源部的林智偉認為,同志在職場「要隱瞞一件事實,好嘥能量,不如將能量放返喺工作上」。英國同志慈善組織Stonewall及美國人權運動調查分別顯示,被迫隱藏性傾向會令員工削減30%生產力,而《哈佛商業評論》亦指隱藏性傾向者比出櫃者,離職率更高出75%。

趙式芝:被舊思想勒死

金融界求才若渴,薪金早不是唯一搶人的本錢。台灣已積極討論同性婚姻合法化,劍指亞洲「同性婚姻經濟」市場,反觀香港尚停留在反歧視立法討論。蔡家聰擔心,隨着鄰近地區平權政策日漸成熟,香港爭奪國際人才時將失利。

富商趙世曾女兒、卓能(131)執行副主席趙式芝認為,港資公司仍然被傳統舊式思想「勒死」,甚至為怕惹來恐同組織反對,而窒礙共融政策發展。她認為職場共融好處「不單止賺錢」,實施同志友好政策的金錢效益難以量化,員工「做嘢做得開心好緊要」。

同志無子女負擔,壯年最「當紮」時消費力較有子女家庭慷慨,香港暫未有具體統計,以美國同志家庭收入較非同志家庭高出72%,中科院估計內地同志佔人口5%即七千萬人,男同志交友app「Blued」成為內地首個成功融資的同志產品並計劃在美國上市,同志客群比例高的高科技產品、旅遊、生活消閒等,賺「粉紅鈔票」可謂賺到笑。但蔡家聰不同意同志「無後顧之憂」的說法,老來欠子女照顧,必需在退休前「積穀防饑」,美國早覷準同志退休生活和保險市場,相關討論在香港才剛起步。

唔戴安全套性行為 女方都會主動提出?

團體「關懷愛滋」,平均每年接觸1,200名高風險青少年,他們曾在沒使用安全套下進行陰道交或肛交性行為。項目經理何冠雄形容,一般青年聽到「愛滋」二字,就如聽到「太空船上月球」,認為與自己距離甚遠︰「即使唔用套都仲覺得自己無機會感染」。

何冠雄曾接觸一名感染衣原體的14歲少女︰「佢知道要用套,但唔識點同男朋友say no,怕原本可以唔用,再拒絕就好怪」。少女經他們陪同往政府轄下的社會衞生科求診,服藥一周已康復。

不過,並非所有不安全性行為都是男生做主動,何冠雄指「女仔都可能懷疑點解要用,係咪唔再鍾意我?定係出面有另一個?」而由男生提出不戴套的主要原因,「係因為(身邊)無,又唔敢去買」。何冠雄補充,未來會在高危地點如酒吧等派發包裝新潮不顯眼的安全套,方便男女一套傍身。

至於關懷愛滋政策及傳訊總監林智聰就直指,青少年的錯誤性觀念,主要源於本港性教育不足︰「最update嗰份指引係1997年。有學校直頭唔提安全套、拍拖,禁慾式性教育完全唔切合香港情況」。

「午夜天使」訪蒲點 教青年防愛滋

【記者廖梓霖報道】青年化身塔羅師撩起話題,推廣愛滋零感染。近年廿歲至廿九歲愛滋病感染人數上升兩成,異性戀年輕人感染率更達一成一。為宣揚性健康訊息,年輕人Jim化身「午夜天使」,勇闖後生蒲友心醉神迷的蘭桂坊、中環酒吧區派發安全套。避免攀談時「食檸檬」,Jim特地設計愛情塔羅牌,用算命打開醉酒男女的心,發現不少人親熱時原來是「死要面」拒用套,Jim的行動吸引逾三百人測試性病及愛滋病,當中最年輕測試者只有十三歲。

Jim(右)用塔羅牌與年輕人打開話題,宣揚性健康訊息。(廖梓霖攝)

衛生署衛生防護中心公布本地愛滋病病毒感染最新數字顯示,去年第三季有一百九十五宗感染,是單季度最高的呈報數目。

以塔羅牌打開話題

關懷愛滋青少年團隊項目經理何冠雄(Jim)指,近三年年輕人感染愛滋病的百分比上升三成六。何冠雄指,年輕人「換畫」快且有不同性伴侶,又不設防,曾有十七歲男生和陌生女性一夜情,半年後發現感染衣原體(性病);去年亦有廿多歲男同性戀者驗梅毒,最後發現自己是愛滋病帶菌者。

組織在四月舉辦的慈善跑設有安全套製作班,市民可參與。

Jim三年前開始深宵時分在尖沙咀、中環的酒吧打躉,又走訪屋邨公園,有目的地和青年打交道,他嘗試用塔羅牌打開話題,「問佢地感情煩惱,傾吓傾吓就做到朋友。」不少人與他混熟後更主動測試性病、愛滋病,組織在一三年只有七十名測試者,去年已增加至三百多人。Jim指,有廿二歲男生透露有自備安全套,親熱時竟因不欲「摷嚟摷去畀人笑」而罷休,亦有人怕被朋輩發現不敢到便利店買套。

關懷愛滋將於四月十九日籌辦慈善跑步活動,盼喚起公眾對愛滋病的關注,同日亦會舉辦安全套製作班,免費教導大眾自製安全套方法,詳情可瀏覽www.aidconernrun.com

 
 
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