Malawi court declares mandatory HIV testing illegal: Sex-workers win case

Malawi High Court judge Justice nyaKaunda Kamanga on Wednesday ruled that the police and medical personnel violated the rights of 11 Mwanza women by subjecting them to mandatory HIV testing, setting a precedent by declaring that mandatory testing of HIV/AIDS is illegal and unconstitutional.

Sibande: Safe abortions

Sibande: Ruling comes at more critical time

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.

Justice Kamanga ruled that the action of subjecting the applicants to forced HIV testing was unreasonable and a violation of their rights to privacy, equality, dignity and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment

Sibande, who was supported by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, said the ruling has come at “a more critical time” when Malawi government is in the process of finalising the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Management) Bill.

“Draft versions of the Bill have included provisions allowing mandatory HIV testing of various groups, including sex workers. It is internationally accepted that forced HIV testing is counter-productive and violates human rights,” said Sibande.

“We hope the judgment will ensure that these provisions are finally removed from the Bill. The judgment is also progressive in that it considered equality between men and women in relation to HIV testing,” added the lawyer.

Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director, Gift Trapence, whose organisation also provided support to the case said he was pleased with the ruling.

Anneke Meerkotter from the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) said the ruling sets an “important precedent” in protecting the rights of vulnerable groups who are often subjected to such practices, not only in Malawi, but in many countries across the world.

“The case is testimony to the courage of the applicants, who were willing to hold government accountable for the violation of their rights despite the personal risks they faced in asserting their rights,” she said.

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16 thoughts on “Malawi court declares mandatory HIV testing illegal: Sex-workers win case”

  1. akilen says:

    Uluuu! Well done, pregnant women apumenso ndi zisongole za manesi

  2. Lowinzie Sibande says:

    An international award winning case.

  3. Esther banda says:

    Mmmmm

  4. chindere says:

    But our courts eish sachita manyazi kodi?This court process has taken long ie from 2011-2015?

  5. Zatha says:

    Sibande Why always represent on petty issues,a Police sanalakwitse mukufuna azipha ma driver a truck pa Mwanza?

  6. vendor says:

    This rulling should also apply to organizations who on recruitment subject employees to mandetory testing of Hiv. Its descriminatiin in the highest order

  7. Tate wa matate ; says:

    Sibwino kulimbikitsa uhule inu mukudziwa anthu amenewa ndi anthu ovutitsa maka mmadela amabizewa

  8. Mandolo says:

    koma musaimale kuti akazi adama mu jerusalemu mulungu anawagwetsera milimili ndiye chimene ndimadziwa ine mulungu amene timpembedza ndiye yemwe sasitha. Tiyeni ma lawyer ndi human rights.

  9. Malawiana says:

    I agree with the Judge entirely. We should now explore where it is constitutional to declare prostitution illegal?

  10. mphini za mutchafu says:

    Wr will appeal the judgement is bad and careless and dangerous how can you allow mahule spread matenda

  11. Batman says:

    Za ziiiiiii podyera basi thats why HIV ipitiliza kutikwspula

  12. Chejali says:

    Kkkkkkkkkk kodi mpaka public

  13. Helo says:

    IS IT 11 WOMEN OR 11 PROSTITUTES?
    THESE HOOKERS WERE SPREADING AIDS BY VIRTUE OF THEIR ILLEGAL BUSINESS. WHY SYMPATHIZE WITH THEM?

  14. nkrumah says:

    Mwana wakhwithu kolalulu luso. E Sibande mukanozga kuwako. Ambuye azikudalitseni

  15. peter muthanyula says:

    I only wish government focused on real issues instead of wasting its energies by trampling on people’s freedoms. Who cares about prostitutes infecting a few irresponsible men with HIV? Please deal with real issues such as poverty among women and girls, poor access to quality education, poor access to health services (including preventive services for HIV), poor infrastructural development, frequent power blackouts and water shortages, pilfering of government resources and corruption in the civil services/government… those are the real issues that should be addressed to transform Malawi, not fighting silly wars with a handful of prostitutes. Stupid federation!!

  16. madala says:

    Congratulations Chris. A true Human Rights Lawyer

Comments are closed.