GBV, HIV Hand in Glove

Women who experience violence in volatile abusive relationships face four times higher the risk of contracting HIV, an international study on the linkages between gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV has revealed.

Furthermore the study titled, “Gender-Based Violence in Namibia: An Exploratory Assessment and Mapping of GBV Response Services in Windhoek,” conducted by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIVAIDS (UNAIDS) revealed HIV-positive women report higher rates of intimate partner violence and evidence show that HIV risk is linked to lifetime exposure to violence.

Women who are physically abused have little chance of negotiating for safe sex, and fear going for HIV testing or disclosing their status to get the necessary care.

This perhaps explains why the prevalence of HIV among females is higher at 58 percent as opposed to their male counterparts.

The study also paints another gloomy picture of 30 percent of young Namibian women being forced to have sex before age 15, while harmful cultural practices are said to contribute significantly to HIV infection among females.

These practices include subordination of women through beatings, coerced initiation of girls into ‘womanhood’, preparation for sex and sexual readiness testing, cutting and scarring of young women’s bodies and drying out the vagina for ‘dry sex’, the study revealed.

The highest rates of new infections among females in 2010 were also estimated to be in the 20-24 aged females, from 13.1 percent to 14.1 percent.

The Namibian Police reported that an alarming 122 rape cases were reported between January and April 2013, with 92 percent of the victims being women and girls.

A United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) study also revealed that over one-third of ever-partnered women in Namibia reported having experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

“One of the reasons for the high prevalence of GBV in Namibia is the widespread cultural acceptance of violence perpetrated on the basis of gender,” reads the report.

To make matters worse, 35 percent or more than one-third of Namibian men feel that wife beating is justifiable.

Source : New Era