LONDON - December 1 - Needless deaths by HIV/AIDS continue to occur amidst statistics of increased danger to women and young people.
In the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi, women from conflict-ridden countries in Africa and disaster-hit countries in Asia are discussing how, many of their own, are fast becoming part of the statistics, courtesy of men’s brutality and beastly sexual acts.
“As the world pays attention to stopping deaths by guns, lives of hundreds of thousands of women are shattered by rape and sexual violence beyond generations,” says Aline Aliyene Cinanula, a 16-year-old victim of sexual violence from DR Congo.
“Action should be taken to ensure no one ever goes through what women in conflicts have gone through,” adds Aline.
The world must tame the pandemic from the bud. Otherwise it will just be business-as-usual as women continue to die.
“The conventional approaches of abstain, be-faithful and use-condom do not work for women. We need to be deliberate about the focus on women to deal with this fast-growing pandemic,” says ActionAid Women’s Rights Coordinator in Africa, Mary Wandia.
“What choice does a woman in conflict situation have?” asked Jessica Nkuhe of ISIS WICCE – a global resource centre for women issues based in Kampala, Uganda.
“The world is not paying attention to how violence against women and conflict is increasing women’s vulnerability to HIV yet every year we churn out statistics showing how women are the most affected,” added Mary.
Participants drawn from across Africa and Asia dropped their heads in grief as women speakers from conflict countries narrated the silent toll on women, of the genocide of rape and sexual violence in conflicts.
“The very forces that are supposed to protect people are killing women. They keep ladies in their camps and wander around the displaced people’s camps saying it is a market place for sex. When they get infected they come back to their “supposed” wives and tell them, we bought it for money but we are now giving it to you for free –(referring to HIV/AIDS),” Therese Nahompagaze of National Council Against AIDS in Burundi told the participants.
“It is the un-equalness between men and women that is fuelling this. If camps for displaced people were managed by women and more women were recruited to lead peace keeping forces, this would not be the case. Similarly if women had access to productive resources they would not go around selling their bodies,” adds Jessica.
“It is on this basis that ActionAid has joined other like minded organizations to ensure HIV/AIDS responses recognize unique women’s situations in conflicts and emergencies,” concludes Mary.