08 Sep 2014
Susana T. Fried and Atif Khurshid
A mom and her newborn baby at the Maternal & Child Health Training Institute for the medically needy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Kibae Park/UN
Though voluntary sterilization is considered an important form of pregnancy prevention in many parts of the world, force or coercion should never be part of the equation.
However, there continue to be cases of women, people living with HIV, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, or transgender and intersex persons who are sterilized without their full, free and informed consent.
Our report, “Protecting the right of key HIV-affected women and girls in healthcare settings” highlights the persistence of this practice amongst women and girls in Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan living with HIV, along with a range of other serious forms of abuse.
These practices are not only discriminatory, they are also violations of fundamental human rights. As reported in 2012 by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, coercive and discriminatory practices in health care settings are rife, including forced HIV testing, breaches of confidentiality and the denial of health care services, as well as forced sterilizations and abortions.
Voluntary sterilization is dependent upon a legal environment and social and health programmes, policies and practices that guarantee the rights of all individuals to free, full and informed consent. To this end, countries must prohibit the practice of …