The High Court in Blantyre is today expected to hear arguments on whether the police and medical personnel violated the rights of 11 Mwanza women by subjecting them to mandatory HIV testing.
Lawyer representing the 11 women, Chrispine Sibande, filed an application in court on March 10 2011, arguing that their rights were violated when they were subjected to HIV test and the results made public.
The women, who allege that their HIV status was publicly disclosed in an open court, argue that the mandatory HIV testing by government officials violated their constitutional rights to dignity, privacy, liberty, non-discrimination, and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
“This case is about a group of women who were randomly arrested during sweeping exercises by the police and then tested for HIV without their consent,” said Anneke Meerkotter from the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), who is supporting the case.
“The police and health workers showed complete disregard for the women’s rights. The High Court must stop this from ever happening again,” said Meerkotter in a statement on Monday.
Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director, Gift Trapence, whose organisation is also providing support to the case said: “The rights violations in this case highlight the necessity of having legislation which protects everyone from mandatory HIV testing”.