South Africa is grappling with a new report that uncovered at least 48 HIV-positive women forcibly sterilized after giving birth.
The women say they were coerced or forced into sterilization by hospital officials between 2002-2005, according to the report by the nation's Commission for Gender Equality. Medical officials threatened to "not assist them in giving birth" if they didn't sign consent forms agreeing to the sterilization. The alleged victims described "cruel, torturous or inhumane and degrading treatment," according to ABC News.
The incidents didn't occur in remote areas, but rather in some of South Africa's largest cities, including Johannesburg.
One of the women described a terrifying experience: "When I asked the nurse what the forms were for, the nurse responded by saying: 'You HIV people don't ask questions when you make babies. Why are you asking questions now? You must be closed up because you HIV people like making babies and it just annoys us.'"
The alleged sterilizations are only coming to light now because hospital officials hid documentation or refused to communicate with investigators, according to the report.
Compared to other nations, South Africa suffers from disproportionately-high HIV rates, according to the World Health Organization.