November 25, 2013
Oakland, Calif. -- Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the beginning of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. Around the world, women and girls experience a wide range of violations to their dignity and safety including sexual violence, child abuse, trafficking, and intimate partner violence.
In the U.S., one in five women have been raped in their lifetime and one in four women have experienced sexual violence by an intimate partner, according to the CDC's 2010 National Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence Survey. For women living with HIV, the intersection of past trauma, race, class, geography, and HIV status may increase vulnerability to violence at the interpersonal, community, and State level. The war on women's bodily autonomy and HIV criminalization laws, among others, play a devastating role in perpetuating violence, especially for women of color and transgender women.
"Violence impacts women living with HIV in a multitude of ways. From her personal life to fear of discrimination while receiving health care and discrimination in the workplace, violence against women severely isolates and traumatizes women. It is this trauma that can lead to falling out of the health care system, substance use, depression and other issues," says Waheedah Shabazz-El, of PWN-Philadelphia, a woman openly living with HIV.
Efforts are underway to strengthen a needed integration of services and policies addressing HIV and violence against women. In March, President Obama reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. In September, the Federal Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities released a report detailing federal agency recommendations. Local and state response, such as California's recently passed bill mandating transgender students have equal access to facilitates and activities consistent with their gender identity, is a step forward to curbing violence against women.
Positive Women's Network - USA is deeply committed to ending violence against women. Recently, PWN-USA in partnership with UCSF Women's HIV Program held a Strategy Meeting on Trauma-Informed Primary Care to better integrate a trauma-informed response into care settings for women living with HIV. Over the next 16 days, PWN-USA activities will be taking place nation-wide during the 16 Days Campaign and for World AIDS Day. Our focus will be to address violence against women at local, state, and national levels. Support an event near you!