, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – Five HIV positive women have sued both the national and Nairobi county governments as well as various health facilities for what they say were, “forced and coerced,” sterilisations.
Three of the women identified in court documents as SWK, PAK and AMM say they were under duress when they underwent bilateral tubal ligation while LAW says she only discovered she had undergone the procedure when she later tried to conceive.
“On or about July 2010, she visited a free medical camp in Mathare which was held by German Doctors and explained to the doctor that she has been trying to conceive but has been unsuccessful. She underwent medical tests and the doctor informed her that her tubes are blocked because they had been ligated,” her separate petition reads.
LAW has therefore sued the Marura Maternity and Nursing Home, where she last delivered and believes she underwent the procedure.
“The first Petitioner soon thereafter lost her husband and she remarried. Her current husband has wanted her to conceive but she has not been successful,” the petition explains.
GWK says she only discovered she had undergone sterilisation on experiencing pain in her abdomen after giving birth.
“It is only during the time she was recuperating in hospital that a nurse doing rounds at the ward informed her that the doctor had performed a tubal ligation on her when she enquired as to why she was in a lot of pain,” her joint petition with SWK, PAK and AMM reads.
As with LAW, she says she thought she only consented to a cesarean section.
AMM says she signed a consent form whose contents she could nor read as she cannot read and only after being erroneously informed by a nurse in Pumwani that failing to do so would compromise her health.
“Every week when she went to collect formula, the nurse would tell her of the need to undergo a tubal ligation since according to the nurse, she could not continue giving birth in the future as giving birth would compromise her immunity and as a result she would die,” the petition reads.
Pumwani is therefore listed as one of the respondents.
SWK, GWK and AMM all say they underwent sterilisation at Pumwani while PAK says she underwent hers at a Maries Stopes clinic.
All four women have in common the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) run Blue House Mathare Clinic which they say would only give them food portions and baby formulae if they could prove they underwent sterilisation.
“A nutritionist at Blue House Mathare Clinic called Benta Anyango Owour informed her that if she did not agree to undergo the Tubal Ligation during the time of giving birth, she would not qualify to receive food portions e.g. cooking oil, porridge and ugali flour and payment of the maternity bill,” the petition relays of SWK.
All five women say they were not properly informed of the other family planning options available to them and after it was established they already had other children, were forced to undergo sterilisation.
They therefore want the Human Rights Division of the High Court to adjudge that their rights were violated through forced and coerced sterilisation.
They also want the Ministry of Health to put in place guidelines to ensure such sterilisations are not repeated in future.
Finally, they are looking for damages to be paid to them.