Sex workers sue Malawian government

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1 Jan

In 2014 the AFP news agency reported that the 14 Malawian sex workers arrested by police and forced to undergo HIV tests in 2009 had launched a fresh bid to seek damages from the government for “unfair action and violating their privacy.” The group had been arrested and hauled to a government hospital for HIV testing without their consent, and had their positive results disclosed in an open court. According to the police, having the women tested was part of their investigation.

The sex workers were charged for trading in sex while having a sexually transmitted disease. They were fined $7 and set free. The group then filed for a judicial review of their case in 2009, but the court only gave consent to the sex workers to proceed with their action in 2011.

In the affidavits, the women say they are suing the government because after their arrest for selling sex, a police officer in charge and a district health officer for Mwanza in southern Malawi, “subjected us to a forced HIV test without our informed consent … this decision was illegal.”

“My clients are seeking damages as compensation for violation of their constitutional rights and trauma suffered as a result of actions of the police and a hospital,” said the complainants’ lawyer David Matupika Banda. Judge Dorothy Nyakaunda Kamanga ordered the defence lawyer to submit to the court the grounds for seeking damages, before she can set a hearing date. The case is still pending.

Malawi sex workers sue government:
14 November 2011
By Benim, In-depth Africa

Sex workers sue over HIV test: (news article)
14 November 14 2011 

Sex workers sue cops over Aids tests: (news article)
25 February 25 2014