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Zambia: Abuses Against Women Obstruct HIV Treatment
The Zambian government is failing to address the life-threatening obstacles facing Zambian women living with HIV who experience domestic and gender-based violence, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Gender-based violence and insecure property rights are preventing Zambian women from accessing life-saving antiretroviral treatment.
While acknowledging the significant overall progress made by the Zambian government in scaling up HIV treatment generally, the 96-page report, “Hidden in the Mealie Meal: Gender-Based Abuses and Women’s HIV Treatment in Zambia,” documents how the government has fallen short of its international legal obligations to combat violence and discrimination against women. The report details abuses that obstruct women’s ability to start and adhere to HIV treatment regimens, including violence against women and insecure property rights that often force women into poverty and dependent, abusive relationships.

“Addressing domestic violence, property grabbing, and unequal distribution of property upon divorce is critical to ensuring that women in Zambia have equal access to antiretroviral medicine” said Nada Ali, researcher in the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Ignoring these abuses will mean that the Zambian government’s goal of universal access to HIV treatment by 2010 will fail.”