Asia-Pacific: Women Share Tales of AIDS-Related Dispossession
August 21, 2007
Many women are subject to widespread AIDS-related stigma and discrimination in developing nations -- the subject of a session at the 8th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific being held in Columbo, Sri Lanka. Twenty women gave personal testimony on the topic before a mock court organized by the UN Development Program (UNDP).
After Princey Mangalika's husband died and villagers discovered he had AIDS, they wanted her and her two daughters "to go away immediately," Mangalika said. "I was shocked to see that my husband's brother was the leader of the vigilantes." Her brother-in-law also took her property. "Who is there to take up my case?" Mangalika asked.
The women's testimonials repeatedly struck the theme of dispossession. Women widowed by or infected with HIV are often subjected to violence and see their rights to property and security violated by in-laws, relatives, and villagers. The women are excluded from inheritance, expelled from their homes by in-laws, and often end up vulnerable and in poverty.
The testimonials focused on women's rights to shelter, food security, property, a livelihood, and access to care and treatment. The women told the session how, though they had taken care of their spouses and run homes during the illness, in the end they were often denied access to their children.
The UNDP court called for legislative equality for women to combat institutional discrimination. Women affected by HIV/AIDS especially need their rights protected in relation to housing, property, and inheritance, UNDP said.
Inter Press Service
8.19.2007; Zofeen Ebrahim
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.