HIV/AIDS and violence against women

Violence against women (VAW) and HIV and AIDS are so interrelated that VAW leads to HIV infection and sometimes it follows the infection. Due to VAW and HIV&AIDS women are facing more problems than men. Gender discrimination, discriminatory law, patriarchy, social and cultural factors such as early marriage, forced marriage, lack of education, son preference society are the reasons behind violence against women. While violent or forced sex, lack of power to negotiate sex, fear of saying no to sex and fear of leaving/ending a relationship leaves women vulnerable to HIV&AIDS. Lack of understanding of the interrelation between VAW and HIV&AIDS among people, stakeholders, society, even government intensifies the vulnerability of HIV positive women and survivors of violence. VAW and HIV both are human rights issues and legal and health crisis as well. Thus these issues need special attention from various accountable agencies such as state, policy, law, programs and strategies. Considering this, in Nepal, Women Won’t Wait (WWW) campaign was launched on March 7, 2007 so as to disseminate the concept of intersection between HIV&AIDS and VAW to various stakeholders including government agencies, non-governmental organizations working in the field of women’s rights and HIV and AIDS and youth. Several programs were and are implemented on VAW and HIV alone but the concept of their intersection was not there. The representative from the National women’s rights forum, secretariat participated in a review and planning meeting of the international campaign “Women won’t wait” in South Africa. Representatives from 11 countries participated and shared their achievements, issues, and problems with the campaign in respective countries. A discussion was also made on the importance of coalitions to influence policy change and implementation as well as increase resource allocation and donor accountability through policy analysis and publication of reports, building of alliances and movement support and ultimately to reduce HIV and AIDS and end violence against women and girls. After the participation in the workshop, representatives shared experiences on the participatory review and reflection program (PRRP) of women’s theme organized by Actionaid Nepal on December where all the representatives from Actionaid partner organizations presented.