Amnesty International Message of Support for ICW

Article image Amnesty International are seeking to act in solidarity with the aims of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS. Click here to read more in their message of support for ICW.

Message of Support for ICW

By Kate Gilmore, Amnesty International Executive Deputy Secretary General

September 2003

Amnesty International is preparing to launch in 2004 a global campaign to Stop Violence Against Women. A growing aspect of the human rights crisis of violence against women is the threat to women represented by the connections between violence against women and the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS. Some women may be targeted for violence because they are HIV positive. Others become HIV infected from an act of violence. Research shows that girls in Sub-Saharan Africa between the ages of 15 and 19 are six times more likely to be HIV positive than boys of the same age, in large part due to rape, coercion or the inability to negotiate safer sex practices. In Zimbabwe organisations have recorded a rise in abuse of widows who are accused of being witches and who are blamed for the rising rates of HIV/AIDS. In South Africa the government’s ambivalent attitude toward implementing a standard of care to prevent HIV transmission has placed survivors of sexual violence from poorer communities at greater risk. In Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo many women have contracted HIV as a result of the use of rape during the armed conflicts. African women experience disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS, but it is a global problem: in the USA, HIV positive women do not survive as long as HIV positive men.

Yet, in the face of indifference, stigma and violence, women are speaking out and taking action to address the violence and discrimination that causes and stems from their HIV positive status. As the only global network run by and for HIV positive women, the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS is an inspiration, inspiring us by demonstrating how women can organize to campaign for their rights and for an end to violence. Their work to address issues of gender equity and provide support for HIV positive women is extremely important human rights work as is their objective to enhance their HIV positive women’s ability to deal with the violence and inequality that are part of their daily lives. At Amnesty International we are seeking to act in solidarity with the aims of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, and through our campaign to Stop Violence Against Women, we look forward to joining with our partners in organizations such as ICW to achieve real change for women.