Students ‘not forced’

2014-07-31 00:00

THE commissions on gender equality and human rights say they will investigate the actions of the KZN Health Department, which insisted women students chosen to study pharmacy in India be injected with contraceptives.

The department and students confirmed yesterday that 11 of the 13 students had been implanted with Implanon — a type of birth control — at a hotel in Durban on Tuesday.

Human Rights Commission spokesperson Isaac Mangena said yesterday the two commissions were looking into areas of joint collaboration on the matter.

“We believe, however, that it would be important to establish if the necessary consent from the women had been obtained, failing which it could constitute a prima facie violation of a number of their rights,” Mangena said.

Mangena made the statements after The Witness reported yesterday that the department had insisted the students be injected with contraceptives.

Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo announced at a farewell dinner on Monday that women students would be injected with Implanon, which is the size of matchstick and placed under the skin of the upper arm to provide contraception for up to three years.

Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) spokesperson Javu Baloyi insisted yesterday that the move sent a wrong message and perception that the girls would be up to no good in India.

“Yes, the idea might be noble, [but] that does not mean the girls do not have a right to choose for themselves,” he said, adding that the commission would raise awareness on the reproductive rights of women in August.

“We feel women are being hard done by, whereas men are mostly left off the hook,” Baloyi said.

Health Department spokesperson Desmond Motha said of the 13 students, two were not given the contraceptive. One student chose not to have the contraceptive while another was advised against undergoing the procedure for health reasons, Motha said.

One student told The Witness the contraceptive was administered by four nurses. She said the nurses explained to them what Implanon was and how it worked, among other things.

“Most of us did take it. Only one student refused it. If you did not want it, you were not forced to,” she said.

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