The Coalition of Women Living with HIV/Aids (Cowlha) says a lot of women living with HIV and Aids in rural communities suffer in silence from sexual violence and abuse.
Cowlha national coordinator Anne Banda was speaking in Salima on Monday during a training session of Cowlha staff and peer educators in sexual reproductive health rights of women living with HIV and Aids.
Banda said a baseline survey conducted in four districts of Nkhotakota, Mchinji, Blantyre and Thyolo revealed that women who are HIV suffer in silence from violations at home, workplace and even at hospitals as they seek treatment. “We are glad to conduct this training which will in the end give hope and courage to people living with HIV and Aids, especially those in rural communities as most are not aware of their rights and responsibilities,” said Banda.
She said 20 HIV-positive widows and couples in Nkhotakota will be equipped with the human rights skills so as to sensitise women and couples living with HIV in the district to their rights and duties.
Lilongwe Police Station victim support unit officer Dorothy Chingaipe admitted that police receive more cases to do with sexual violence among women and children.
“Police’s role is to inform such organisations as Cowlha and Women for Fair Development [Wofad] on these cases so that they should help in sensitising the communities if necessary,” said Chingaipe.
Cowlha and Wofad in partnership with World University Services of Canada (Wusc) are implementing a two-year project on women’s rights funded by Tilitonse Fund with money to the tune of K42 million (about $105 000).
Wusc country director Jacob Mapemba said the project, which started in September last year, is expected to be completed in September next year.
He added: “Wusc’s aim is to coordinate, build capacity and present a direct link between the two organisations [Cowlha and Wofad] and Tilitonse Fund.”