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A Significant Victory for African Women who have Experienced Pressure to Undergo Sterilisation

Four women living with HIV in Kenya have each been awarded $20,000 in damages for being sterilised without their informed consent. The women fought a nine-year legal battle – and their names have been changed to protect their identities, which were not revealed during the case at the High Court. The procedure is called a bilateral tubal ligation (BTL) – when a woman’s fallopian tubes are cut, tied, burned, clipped or partly removed, closing them and preventing future pregnancies. The High Court of Kenya ruled in September that this use of BTL without informed consent was a violation of the women’s fundamental rights, including the right to establish a family. The damages they are to receive will be paid jointly by Marie Stopes International and the Pumwani Maternity Hospital as well as the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which gave family planning advice.