When researching my chosen topics of HIV/AIDS of women in Zambia, I learned that this disease is associated with the condition of their bodies and health. I learned that domestic violence is closely related with that of HIV/AIDS after completing the activity for this week. Just a little recap on my findings: it was shocking to learn that women in Zambia are forbidden to refuse sex from their husband or any man. Also, girls have sex at a younger age than most boys. The average age for their sexual partner is usually about five years older. Being that much older leaves the possibility of them having multiple sexual partner that also will increase the change of HIV/AIDS (HIV & AIDS in Zambia).
These scary facts made me think. Obviously domestic violence is a common health issue affecting all different types of ethnicities and countries but how well does Zambia handle this issue affecting women? I know for a fact that in the United States, we have a lot of resources to reach out to. Of course it is still an issue, but we at least have taken the right steps to end it. We also have punishments for violence, regardless of gender, unlike Zambia. In specific, Michigan State University has a specific “safe house” and hotline you can call if you are in need of help. Also, I was a part of a sorority and our philanthropy that we supported was domestic violence. Just our chapter did a lot for the cause, not to mention all the different chapters throughout the country. But what does Zambia do? Below is a collection of my recent findings and how Zambia has taken action – or I guess I should say, how Zambia should be taking action…
Unfortunately, the Zambian government has fallen short of its legal obligations to combat domestic violence affecting the numerous women throughout the country (Human Rights Watch, 2007). The report exemplifies the horror these poor women live with.
Here is an excerpt: “I fear to tell my husband [about my HIV status] because I fear that he can shout [at me] and divorce me,” Maria T. (not her real name), 45, told Human Rights Watch. “I hide the medicine, I put it on a plate, add mealie meal, so when he takes the lid off he [does not find the medication]. [When] I take the medicine…I have to make sure that he is outside. That is why I forgot to take medicine four times since I started treatment [seven months ago]. Last year he hit me around the back with his fist” (Human Rights Watch, 2007).
This article also mentioned another scary statistic that blew my mind: 17% of Zambia’s adult population is living with HIV, of that 17%, 57% are women. It was mentioned that there is a shelter for the mental health of these women. This shelter is located in Lusaka, Zambia, the capital. They go here for comfort and an escape from their abuse. It is sad to report that they have a total of 10 rapes every week. With these scary and life-threatening statistics, it is vital that the Zambian government put into place a newly reformed legal and health system. This will need to remove any barriers to the HIV treatment that women face. This reform would allow antiretroviral treatments for the women at risk and significantly decrease death. Zambian women should have access to healthcare providers that are well trained and know to handle gender-based abuses. Although Zambia has made free antiretroviral medicine easily accessible to women, you can see the struggle they still face as stated by a Zambian women above. The issue is that they are lacking a system that is educated and trained to respond to gender-based violence (Human Rights Watch, 2007).
There is clearly a link between domestic violence and HIV/AIDS and this affects women both mentally and physically. Once the government puts the connection between the two huge health issues Zambia faces and reforms their medical system, women should be able to get the correct support and care they need.
“HIV & AIDS in Zambia.” HIV & AIDS in Zambia. Avert.org, n.d. Web. 29 July 2015.
“Zambia: Abuses Against Women Obstruct HIV Treatment.” Human Rights Watch. N.p., 18 Dec. 2007. Web. 31 July 2015.