Paid to be sterilised?
A controversial American project has set its sights on South African women.
A controversial US project that pays drug users and alcoholics to undergo sterilisation or long-term contraception, is setting its sights on women living with HIV in South Africa.

Founder of Project Prevention Barbara Harris has confirmed that they were making plans to offer similar services to women living with HIV in South Africa as well as drug users.

'We have had huge interest in South Africa from organisations and concerned citizens,' says Harris, adding that they would be joining forces with local non-governmental organisations.

While she declined to identify them, she says, 'we have many wanting to work with us'.

'How can anyone object to anything that can prevent innocent children suffering needlessly?' asks Harris.

However, Professor Eddie Mhlanga, Chief Director for Maternal, Child and Women’s Health in the health department says they would approach the Human Rights Commission if the project started operating in South Africa.

He also warned that doctors found co-operating with the organisation in any medical interventions would be reported to the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

'We do not support it and we find it very worrisome,' says Mhlanga.

Women with HIV can have healthy babies

Various medical interventions, some available to state patients in South Africa, enable women living with HIV to have perfectly healthy babies.

'We cannot accept a situation where organisations come and exploit poor and defenceless people and we find it unethical that they are asking people to for a certain fee give up their reproductive rights,' says Mhlanga.

'Why are they specifically targeting people who are drug users or living with HIV? They are no less people,' he says.

Professor Di Cooper, head of the Women’s Health Research Unit at the University of Cape Town says the project goes against the core of women’s sexual and reproductive rights recognised in the South African Constitution which gives women a free, non-coercive choice in terms of reproduction. 

'The offering of money could be seen as bribery and is effectively coercive.'

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