Forced Consent

Staff at some South African hospitals forced pregnant HIV-positive women into sterilization after giving birth.

The Commission for Gender Equality confirmed 48 cases in 2015 where women signed consent forms for sterilization procedures under duress.

The country has one of the largest HIV epidemics, with 13% prevalence and 7.7 million people living with HIV, and some medical staff allegedly told HIV-positive pregnant women they would die if they weren’t sterilized after delivering their babies.

Many women were also bullied into signing consent forms they didn’t understand.  

The Commission urged the Ministry of Health to hold staff accountable and to consider compensation and psychological support for the victims. 



Ed. note: The original version of this summary incorrectly said that South Africa had the highest HIV prevalency; the country with the highest prevalence is Eswatini at 27.3%, according to UNAIDS 2018 figures

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