Chile: Apology for sterilizing HIV-positive women in moment of ‘reproductive justice’ |

The settlement is a pivotal moment for women around the world, who have been fighting for reproductive justice for decades.,” speak UNAIDS Chief Winnie Byanyima.

President Gabriel Boric Font has issued an apology as part of a settlement from a lawsuit brought before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) about a Chilean woman who was sterilized without her consent. shortly after giving birth in 2002.

“We welcome the recognition of international responsibility in this iconic case of human rights violations that women live with,” said Luisa Cabal, UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Group Director. HIV and their reproductive autonomy have long suffered.

Shock surgery

When Francisca – a young woman from a rural town in Chile – turns 20, she and her partner receive the good news that they will be welcoming their first child.

During a routine prenatal test, she was diagnosed with HIV.

Taking all appropriate measures to minimize the risk of HIV transmission, she gave birth to an HIV-negative boy in November of that year.

However, during the cesarean section, the surgeon decided not to agree, sterilization for her.

Ms. Byanyima emphasized: “Forced sterilization of HIV-infected women is a violation of women’s most basic human rights.

Make a case

The Chilean Center for Reproductive Rights and Vivo Positivo brought Francisca’s case to the IACHR in 2009 along with the cases of other HIV-positive women who reported being pressured into surgery. sterilization.

In another case, after giving birth, Daniela was assumed she would pass HIV to the newborn with a hug or kiss. She said in interviews that this is how she understands what discrimination is.

The long road to justice

After more than a decade of international litigation and IACHR studying the case, the State signed a settlement agreement, took responsibility and committed to remedy the violations and take measures to ensure that the violations are not. This will not happen again.

UNAIDS intervened in this case with a summary that informed the IACHR of the health guidelines and human rights standards that each country must follow to respect, protect and ensure the human rights of those affected. HIV infection.

“It demonstrates a journey of more than 10 years, for both Francisca and the organizations that have accompanied her in her quest for justice,” Ms. Cabal said.


In an official ceremony, televised live on social media, President Boric apologized to Francisca “for the grave transgression”, the denial of justice and she had to wait a long time.

“It hurts to think that the State… is responsible for these cases. I assure you… that while we are in control, we will do our best as the authorities so that something like this will never happen again and for sure in the future. Where these atrocities have been committed, they will be dealt with appropriately,” he said.

The Center for Reproductive Rights’ Deputy Director of Legal Strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean, Carmen Martinez, read Francisca’s statement and said she could not lead the fight in her name because it would ” close endless doors” for her.

“To this day, HIV carriers are looked down upon with the same disdain as if we decided to get the disease. However, I want to firmly believe that this will change.”

Stigma and discrimination are common

HIV-related stigma and discrimination not only affects the health, lives and well-being of those living with or at risk of HIV infection, but also hinders the response by restricting access. with sexual and reproductive health and other health services.

UNAIDS continues its work to ensure that governments invest in preventing and responding to violations related to discrimination among people living with HIV.

“Unfortunately, this practice is still going on in many countries and efforts to stop it and bring justice to more women must be intensified,” said the head of UNAIDS.

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