Forced sterilisation: Doctors face probe
Posted Sunday, August 26 2012 at 23:30
- A study by the African Gender and Media Initiative (AGMI) reports the cases of 40 women who claim to have been sterilised without their permission.
- Forced sterilisation is a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute and perpetrators are prosecuted under the International Criminal Court provisions.
- Kenyatta National Hospital, which is among the institutions mentioned in the report, denied any of its doctors has sterilised Aids patients without their consent.
Doctors in government and public hospitals are being investigated after a study claimed that they are sterilising women with HIV without their knowledge.
Others are forcing them to undergo tubal ligation in exchange for antiretroviral treatment, according to the survey.
The study by the African Gender and Media Initiative (AGMI) reports the cases of 40 women who claim to have been sterilised without their permission.
Director of Public Health Shariff Shahnaz said the ministry was aware of the allegations and wanted the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board to launch investigations.
“These allegations are very serious and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board is going to investigate them before appropriate action is taken,” he said.
Hospitals found to have taken part in it will face disciplinary action irrespective of whether they are the public or private sector, he added.
The damning revelations have outraged human and civil rights activists who are threatening to go to court if action is not taken immediately.
Among the organisations which have condemned illegal sterilisation are the National Gender and Equality Commission and Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Networks on HIV.
Forced sterilisation is a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute and perpetrators are prosecuted under the International Criminal Court provisions.
Dr Samuel Torerei, acting chairman of KNCHR, said although he was yet to read the study done by AGMI, their 2011 Reproductive Health Inquiry Report had also come up with similar allegations.
“We are going to get the study by AGMI to establish the veracity of the complaints and contact the victims to ask them if they want to make an official complaint with us and assist them to seek legal redress,” he said.
Dr Torerei said the law was clear that before any medical procedure is taken on a patient, their consent must be given.
“Alternatively medical practitioners have to look for proxy consent from patients’ guardians,” he said.
National Gender and Equality Commission chairperson Winfred Lichuma said they would ensure the affected women got access to their medical records to help them in their cases.
The AGMI study profiles 40 women who claim to have been sterilised in various hospitals, private and public, and now have to live with a seemingly irreversible status for the rest of their lives.
The affected women are from Nairobi, Kakamega, Meru, Kandara, Tigania and Kisumu. (READ: Doctors carved out my uterus)
The NGO’s report, Robbed of Choice: Forced and Coerced Sterilisation Experiences of Women Living with HIV in Kenya, captures grim experiences the women went through when they went to give birth but instead went home with their reproductive organs tampered with by the same doctors who helped them give birth.
“Forced or coerced sterilisation of women living with HIV is an infringement of their reproductive rights and dignity as well as social injustice that must be abhorred,” said Dr Anne-Beatrice Kihara, University of Nairobi lecturer and Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society vice-chairperson.