South Africa: rural Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights the losers in HIV-ridden state

Amnesty International today revealed the extent of the impact of HIV and AIDS on poor rural Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in South Africa with a major new report about the overwhelming challenges facing rural Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in the midst of the severe HIV epidemic affecting the country.

The report, based on interviews with rural Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights living with HIV, exposes the depth of oppression faced by South African Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in their daily dealings with their partners and their wider community simply – all because of their gender, HIV status and poverty.

Mary Rayner, Amnesty International’s South Africa researcher, said:

“Rural Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in South Africa are disproportionately affected by poverty and unemployment.

“They continue to experience discriminatory attitudes and practices – particularly from male partners – and live in an environment rife with high levels of sexual and other gender-based violence.”

Despite gradual improvements in the government’s response to the HIV epidemic and the adoption of a widely-welcomed five-year plan, five and a half million South Africans are HIV-infected – one of the highest numbers in any country in the world. Fifty-five percent of them are Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights. South African Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights under 25 are three to four times more likely to be HIV-infected than men in the same age group.

Many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights interviewed by Amnesty International said that they were often unable to protect themselves against HIV infection because they felt at risk of violence when they suggested using a condom.

One woman told Amnesty International that her husband, a truck driver, spent much of his time on the road. On his days off, he would visit her but refused to use condoms when she asked him. After he abandoned the family, she became sick and discovered at the local clinic that she was infected with HIV. She has no knowledge of her husband’s health since he left the family.

Several other Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights interviewed by Amnesty International described being beaten and forced to have sex by husbands who actively refused to use condoms.

Michelle Kagari, Deputy Director of AI’s Africa Programme, said:

“Rural South African Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's lives are scarred by persistent violence in their families, homes and in under-policed, unsafe communities.

"The co-existence of epidemics of both HIV and violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights has raised the costs of violence for South African Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls – both physically and psychologically."

While there are many good reasons to increase testing for HIV across South Africa, the situation is complicated in a context of gender inequality and violence, poverty and social stigma. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are currently tested in greater numbers than men currently. When they receive limited psycho-social support, disclosing their status can leave them vulnerable to abandonment, threats of violence and other consequences of stigma and discrimination.

The great majority of rural Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights interviewed by Amnesty International said that their male partners were reluctant to test for HIV or refused to be tested –- even when there were strong indications the men might be HIV-infected.

Many of the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights faced abuse from their partners when they tried to access health services for HIV-related treatment and care.

Effective treatment for HIV and AIDS requires regular visits to hospitals and clinics for treatment and care. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights also need adequate daily food with which to take their medication. Rural Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights living with HIV in circumstances of poverty and unemployment face constant challenges in having regular access to food and often cannot afford transportation to health facilities accredited to provide treatment.

Also hampering treatment in rural areas is the fact that South Africa's health system is currently facing severe shortages of essential medical and other staff necessary for providing a comprehensive service – particularly in these areas.

Amnesty International’s report offers specific recommendations to national and provincial authorities on how to tackle the challenges facing rural Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights living with HIV. It also makes recommendations to donor countries and institutions that support health initiatives in South Africa.

  • Rural Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights living with HIV face human rights abuses in South Africa-Report

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