Violence against women and HIV/AIDS

Gender equalityHealthSocial issues

Notes to broadcasters

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Violence against women includes rape and coerced sex, physical and sexual abuse, as well as harmful traditional practices such as female genital cutting and forced early marriage. These kinds of violence increase women’s risk of HIV infection both directly through forced sex and indirectly by instilling fear, which limits women’s ability to negotiate the circumstances in which sex takes place and the use of condoms. Violence has negatively impacts on physical, psychological and social development.

Many women report experiences of violence following disclosure of their HIV status, or even following admission that HIV testing has been sought. This violence may interfere with a woman’s ability to access treatment and care or to adhere to anti-retroviral drug (ARV) treatments. Some men even help themselves to their partners ARV treatments.

Violence against women is extremely prevalent, both in developing and developed countries. In many areas, close to 50% of women report having been the victims of violence.

As the script points out, there is a strong relationship between violence against women and lack of respect for women’s rights, such as the right to education, the right to express themselves, the right to own property, and the right to freedom of movement. Violence against women is fuelled and condoned by values which refuse to grant women these human rights.

To adapt this script for your local audience, you might want to interview representatives of local and national women’s groups on the air, perhaps including a phone-in segment of the program. In 1999, the United Nations designated November 25th as the Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. You might want to have a series of programs connected with this event.


Hello dear listener, this is Radio Mang’elete FM in central Kenya, and my name is Dominic Mutua Maweu. Today, I present to you the Imanyiliile programme which I am very sure has been a great help to you and you love it! In the Kikamba language, Imanyiliile means “Take care. There is danger!”

Today I would like us to consider how violence against women can encourage the spread of HIV and AIDS. When we talk of violence against women, we mean fighting, rape and abuse of the rights of a woman. And when we talk of the rights of women, we mean denying women the right to be educated at the right time, the right for women to express themselves and to give their views on anything concerning themselves, their community and their country.

Dear listener, you are aware that the best tool in the fight against this virus is love. Men! If we really love our women, who include our sisters and mothers, don’t you think that we will stop fighting them in our homes, at work and in our markets? Don’t you think we will stop raping them and denying them their rights?

(Pause)I would like you to listen to a speech from Rhoda Maende, a woman from our district who is a counsellor and leader of a women’s organization known as the Makueni Women’s Regional Assembly. In this speech, she is addressing the people of Makueni District at Makindu town where they had gathered to celebrate the World AIDS Day Celebration on January 12th, 2005.

Fade up sounds of crowd, then under speaker throughout her speech.

“Hamjambo, Hamjambo tena? My name is Rhoda Maende from Makueni. I am with an organization known as the Makueni Women’s Regional Assembly. One of our main duties is to ensure that women are given their rights, that children are given their rights, and that men are given respect. Today I would like to say a little about this epidemic virus of AIDS. I would like to talk about how it is connected with violence against women or any sort of violation of a woman who is married or unmarried. These fights in our homes and rapes of our women encourage the spread of this virus.

Violence against women must stop! Ama sivyo akina mama or is it not so, my dear women? We say violence against women must stop.

There are women working at our bars. A job is a job and a woman has a right to work anywhere. Just because she works in a bar does not mean she can be abused by any customer who goes there. And if I hear any stories of men abusing these women or taking them person by force, I will take them to court and they will be jailed. Because it is a crime.

Every woman should be respected for what she is doing. She has the right to fend for herself, for what will she eat if she does not work? We are saying that this abuse must stop and every woman be given respect. If a woman agrees to go with you, that is okay! But this violence must stop!

Fade up crowd noises for 5 seconds, then out.

I hope that you have heard what this leader said. But I want you to think of it in this way. The abuse of women’s rights, and especially the right to education, is the worst culprit of all for spreading the virus. Because it is only through education that one learns about this virus and its effects. And it is through freedom of expression that a woman can say, “I want to use a condom,” even if she is speaking to her husband.

In conclusion, here is how a community should act when there is violence against women: First, try to intervene if you observe actions that you believe are abusive. Second, listen and respond without blaming people who are abused. Third, tell other people about abuse of women; create a community dialogue about violence towards women. Fourth, remember that confidentiality is very important in sharing information about any kind of abuse. Fifth, hold community meetings with the police and government and insist on better services for abused women. And above all, support the right of all women to live safely and trustfully in their communities.

Thank you and let us stop there for today. My name is Dominic Mutua Maweu, and I am the producer and the presenter of this programme. Till next time, good bye and take care!


Contributed by: Dominic M. Maweu, producer and presenter, HIV/AIDS Programme, Radio Mang’elete, Mtito Andei, Kenya.

Reviewed by: Rebecca Hodes, D.Phil candidate in the History of Medicine, Oxford University.

Focus: HIV/AIDS in the Media; Mawethu Zita, Driven Force Co coordinator and Artistic Director, Other Half Project Team Member, Ikhwezi Lokusa Wellness Centre, East London, South Africa.

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