Addressing the link between violence against women and increased cases of HIV in women has been seen as a key intervention in reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS. According to a 2014 report by UNAIDS, women who have experienced violence are up to three times likely to be infected with HIV than those who are not. There are many factors that contribute to this disparity including inability to negotiate for safe sex.
As part of the support to prevent and respond to Sexual and Gender Based Violence, UNDP Kenya in collaboration with UNDP HQ and the Government of South Korea have launched a pilot project in 8 counties. This program focuses on strengthening the legal and policy environment that protects women and girls who are living with HIV from GBV and providing better response services through increased community awareness and enhanced capacity of service providers to address sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). The selected counties are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Kakamega, Uashin Gishu, Turkana, Nakuru.
Violence remains a major risk factor for people living with HIV especially so in the case of women and girls;
- Women are often the first member in a household to discover their status, through ante-natal testing. This can result in blame, violence and rejection from partners or in-laws, family, friends and community.
- Assaults, battery and the rape of HIV positive women and children, especially girls perpetuate the spread of HIV directly (in the case of rape) and indirectly through promoting intra-familial fear that might prevent disclosure by a positive partner to a negative partner or prevent negotiation of safe sex.
- Certain situations such as conflict, migration and sex work can exacerbate the risk and impact of violence on women including HIV positive women.
- Gender and HIV–related discrimination leads to social tolerance of violence against HIV positive women including marital rape. This prevents women from discussing the issue. Stigma and discrimination may mean that PLHIV feel ashamed of themselves and of their status. This can undermine their confidence to leave or confront an abusive situation.
Exposure to re-infection by refusal to wear condoms, or the violation of a woman’s reproductive rights (e.g. if a woman is forced or coerced into pregnancies and childbirth that she is not willing to undergo) can endanger her life due to HIV-related complications.
The program will also address the demand and supply side of access to justice, with an aim to strengthen the capacities of rule of law institutions and local communities for the prevention and response to SGBV.