News / Africa

UN: Ending Gender Violence Key to Ending HIV/AIDS

Tonderai Kanyere waits for his results after he was tested for HIV and AIDS in Harare, June 22, 2012.
Tonderai Kanyere waits for his results after he was tested for HIV and AIDS in Harare, June 22, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
Research conducted by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, revealed that half of all people living with HIV are women, and that ending gender-based violence is critical to ending HIV/AIDS. The agency said that a key part of conquering both sexual violence and HIV/AIDS is to include men in initiatives where the goal is to end violence against women and to empower them.

UNAIDS director Mariangela Simao explained that violence against women translates to sexual violence, and like a domino effect, sexual violence can lead to women contracting HIV/AIDS.  She said their research showed that in many cases, the first sexual experience for an adolescent girl is through sexual violence which often evolves into more violent acts on them.

"There are other forms of violence that could make women a higher risk of HIV infection," said Simao. "For example, in stable partnerships where domestic violence is a reality, and many times the partner has multiple partnerships outside the marriage. Also, violent contacts make it harder for women to negotiate condom use."

The UNAIDS official noted conditions that potentially lead to sexual violence exist not just in countries experiencing ethnic and political conflicts. For example, in many cultures, violence against women is acceptable, making it difficult for women to take action against it. Victims are afraid to take action for fear of stigmatization and more violence against them. For women, a key to empowering women is education.

"Education helps, but it doesn’t mean that all women who are submitted to violence are uneducated, because that is not true. Gender equality measures, or programs put in place can help decrease the vulnerability to gender based violence and consequently, in the case of sexual violence, the vulnerability to an HIV infection," she said.

Financial dependency is also a risk factor for women who are continually submitted to gender-based violence. That’s because they lack the opportunities to get out of the situation. It is vital that their husbands, partners, brothers and sons become a part of the solution in empowering them.

"In the case of men, we have many initiatives around the world, where men are actively involved in mending gender based violence in general," explained Simao. "There are role models like actors, big stars, celebrities who come out and talk against gender based violence to change cultural norms to change the environment, to have attitudes to understand gender equality, and to be respectful of their partner’s or whatever situation you have with women."

Simao said men are an essential part of the effort because women experience sexual violence from men. Involving them in the process, she says, will help men become part of the solution, and not just the problem.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs