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World Social Forum Addresses Women, Violence and AIDS


While the World Economic Forum continues in Davos, Switzerland, the World Social Forum continues in Nairobi, Kenya.

It’s a gathering of activists and NGOs from around the world. Many are opposed to globalization and the goals of the World Economic Forum. This is the first time the World Social Forum is being held in Nairobi.

One of the topics being discussed this week is violence against women. Among those who addressed the Nairobi meeting is Ludfine Anyango, national HIV/AIDS coordinator for ActionAid International-Kenya. She told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua that violence against women is very widespread and contributes to the spread of HIV.

“There’s continuous violence. It’s all over reported in our national papers. Almost each and every day there’s a rape case, there’s some sexual violence against a girl or a woman or a child as young as six months. So it’s everywhere,” she says.

Speaking on the link between violence and HIV/AIDS, Anyango says, “Where there’s violence, therein lie HIV (AIDS virus) and AIDS. When we are talking about children as young as six months or young girls going to school being raped, therein you will find that transmission of HIV and AIDS will happen.”

But there’s also violence in marriages and relationships. “Women are continuously beaten up. If for example a woman is the first one to be diagnosed with HIV, such a person will face emotional type of abandonment. Or they will be accused of bringing HIV into the family and they will face violence…but on the other part, violence causes HIV because we have people who are being sexually violated because they are women or if they are commercial sexworkers on the street.”

The ActionAid official says there are local and international laws and policies in place against such violence and to empower women to report sexual attacks or violence. However, she says that Kenya’s judicial system needs to be more responsive to victims of sexual violence.

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