March against forced sterilisation-Namibian Sun

Date: May 9, 2010
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About 300 people take to the streets protesting against the alleged forced sterilization of 15 HIV positive women. The march, part of the “End Forced Sterilisation Campaign”, brought the matter before the courts. The campaign, initiated by civil society organizations, aimed at raising public awareness of the alleged violation of human rights and seeks to redress the rights of affected women.


This article highlighted
– How HIV positive women rights are violated by forced sterilization.
– The role of the media in shedding light on the subject of women living with HIV
– Information on HIV/AIDS with a gender-dimension.
– Omission of crucial and relevant sources, in this case the article does not incorporate women as sources on matters that impact directly on them.

The headline of the story is appropriate as it gives the reader insight on the core issue of the march. ‘Forced sterilisation’ captures the essence of the whole argument that the right to choice was violated.

The story is told from the point of view of two civil society organizations, the Legal Assistance Centre and Women’s Solidarity Namibia. The 15 women are not quoted. One would have expected the women to give their point of view. While it is understandable that in some instances women living with AIDS do now want their identity to be revealed the reporter could at least have tried to use pseudo names.

Amon Ngavetete, a man, speaks on behalf of the Legal Assistance Centre. He articulates a rights-based gender-sensitive discourse and this may be positive and challenges the social norm. However, the absence of women’s voice is cause for concern. This article does not provide information to suggest any effort was made to get a women’s opinion. Women are the subjects of the story, it was a missed opportunity to canvass them about their experiences and thus reduced their voice to that of “helpless victim who must be spoken for”. It can convey an impression that women cannot articulate their concerns and have to be helped by other people or agencies.

This article misses an opportunity to explore the gender dynamics around HIV and AIDS. The writer should have highlighted that mainly women are subjected to trials compared to men. One actually wonders why it was only women who were sterilized. Why not men? What does it say about HIV positive women and men?

The article could have explored the pros and cons of sterilisation. Is it a way of curbing the spread of HIV? If yes, what are the advantages or disadvantages compared to PMTCT? Does it mean that HIV positive women do not have a choice whether they should have children or not. What measures are being taken to ensure that the spread of the virus by HIV positive men is curbed?


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