Women need help to heal

2014-08-06 00:00

THERE should be greater understanding for the feeling of loss and sadness experienced by women forced to give up any chance of motherhood.

Wits psychology professor Gillian Eagle said yesterday the only way these women can start to heal was through counselling and redress.

The Witness revealed yesterday how HIV-positive women at various state hospitals in KZN were allegedly subjected to forced sterilisation, one as recently as April.

“Forced sterilisation could make HIV-positive women very sad, depressed and angry. The key to understanding the impact of forced sterilisation is the age of the affected women and their expectation in their life in terms of having children.

“Part of the psychological impact will be whether this loss is feeling as if their identity is being taken away.

“If the operation cannot not be reversed, that would add to the trauma,” Eagle said.

She said the women could feel that they no longer have control over their bodies and that could also translate to deepening distrust in the public health system.

“They will need to complain to the Health Professional Council of South Africa. They would also need to seek counselling and meet with social workers,” Eagle added.

Advocate Ann Strode of the school of law at University of KZN said providing counselling to the new group of 24 women would be part of the process since the taking of statements started.

“There is going to be a lot of other things,” she said, referring to the process now followed on assessing their statements and a decision to be made on pressing with litigation.

Strode said having sessions where the women could be together in one place to share their experiences was also a way to provide group support to each other.

• mayibongwe.maqhina@witness.co.za

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