Tanzanian Pastoralist Women: HIV and Health Rights


(Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights)

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Pastoralist women in many parts of Africa, including Northeast Africa and Nigeria, face many cultural practices which increase their vulnerability to HIV.

At the current International AIDS Conference in Durban, despite it taking place on the same continent, there are no sessions or abstracts listed in relation to pastoralists at all. I would love to be there to raise awareness of pastoralist women’s rights myself, but with no funds available to travel, register or stay there, I am glad to be able to write about some of the issues they face here.

These cultural practices, gender inequalities and inadequate knowledge for most women – and men – about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues and HIV transmission limit their decision-making abilities regarding when to have sex, whether or not to use a condom or other contraceptive methods, whether or not to get pregnant, and whether or not to get tested for HIV or other STIs.

Deprived of rights to access basic needs such as healthcare, or a balanced diet, women are also particularly vulnerable to domestic violence, as their fragile socio-economic systems worsen. Furthermore, men and women face different challenges in living with HIV and AIDS, in access to health and support services, and with regard to stigma attached to the epidemic. Women have much less time and much less opportunity than men to access services.

Read the rest of the article at OpenDemocracy.