A great deal of evidence confirms that violence against women and HIV/AIDS are inextricably intertwined and mutually reinforcing. For years, decision-makers have advocated for addressing violence against women in a multi-sectoral way, yet little progress has actually been made in addressing violence and HIV together.
This report gathers experiences from a number of programmes, ranging from multimedia campaigns to peer education, from capacity-building for service providers to policy advocacy, and from cross-sectoral fora to action research. Among key points:
- Marital rape, economic and emotional abuse, threats of violence and threats to evict a woman from her home or prevent her from seeing her children are all manifestations of violence that increase women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and may prevent them from seeking services or treatment.
- Changes must center on the empowerment of women and girls and the transformation of social norms around what it means to be a man.
- Programmes aimed at the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS cannot succeed without challenging the structures of unequal power relations between women and men.
- The strongest synergy is often achieved by intervening on multiple levels simultaneously, using coordinated strategies that are mutually reinforcing.
- Peer-to-peer support groups provide strength in numbers.
- Violence survivors and HIV-positive women are the experts on their own lived experience; engaging them in all aspects of awareness-raising and capacity-building, formative assessment, implementation, monitoring and evaluation is critical to the success of interventions as well as inherently empowering for the women themselves.
The recommendations section (pages 15 to 19) will be especially useful to those designing interventions.