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Rwandan Bill Would Lead to Forced Sterilization: Rights Group

by VR Sreeraman on July 2, 2009 at 3:02 PM
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 Rwandan Bill Would Lead to Forced Sterilization: Rights Group

A US-based rights group on Wednesday urged Rwanda to revise a draft law which it said would introduce compulsory HIV testing and require all people with mental disabilities to be sterilized.

"Compulsory HIV testing and forced sterilization are counter-productive to the Rwandan government's goal of improved reproductive health," said Joe Amon, health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch.

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"Provisions in the current bill that increase stigma, rely on coercion, and deny individuals their reproductive rights should be removed," he said.

The reproductive health bill provides for HIV testing for all individuals who plan to marry, as well as for testing upon the request of a spouse.
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A child or incapacitated person may be tested by a doctor without seeking consent, who may then show the result to parents or guardians.

HRW pointed out that mandatory HIV testing and disclosure have been condemned by the UN as a violation of privacy.

The group said "mandatory testing and compulsory disclosure can put women at increased risk of abuse and undermine public trust in the health care system."

The draft legislation would also oblige the Rwandan government to "suspend fertility for mentally handicapped people," the rights group said.

"Systematic forced sterilization had been recognised as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court," it said.

Source: AFP
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