Liblink: Lynne Featherstone on breaking the link between violence against women and HIV

The UK is supporting HIV intervention in Malawi and others must help to break this tragic cycle, say Lynne Featherstone and Annie Lennox in the Guardian.

Tears may dry in seconds. Bruises may disappear in days – and scars might eventually fade. But of all the devastating consequences of violence against women and girls, there is one lasting impact that cannot be hidden underneath clothing or concealed behind a forced smile. In sub-Saharan Africa, every minute of every day a woman becomes infected with HIV, adding to the tragic and persistent spread of the HIV/Aids epidemic.

The brutal fact is that violence against women and girls is the driving force behind many of these infections, and a purely medical response is not enough.

If we are to reverse the soaring rates of infection, we have to acknowledge and break the link with violence. A solely medical approach will not work by itself. The root causes, including social behaviour and abusive attitudes towards women and girls, have been ignored for far too long and urgently need to be addressed.

So we are told of DfID-backed initiatives in Malawi to support victims of abuse, but these need to be built on and extended. The fight against violence against women and girls is vital to the fight against HIV.

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One Comment

  • Richard Dean 2nd Dec '13 - 1:35pm

    One a minute is half a million a year. While the problems of violence and HIV may be related, solving the first does not look like a way to solve the second in any reasonable timeframe. Is there any evidence that it wold be? To address HIV, people need information, condoms, support systems, clinics, and leadership. These things can certainly help empower women, and maybe that will be a start towards addressing the problems of abuse.

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