Chicago Tribune Examines HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Women in Lesotho
The Chicago Tribune on Sunday examined how African women's inability to refuse unwanted sex and demand condom use has contributed to HIV infections among half of all young women in Lesotho. A recent study by the South African Medical Research Council found that for 60% to 80% of HIV-positive Southern African women, the only HIV risk factor they had was having sex with their husbands. The situation has become "so bad" that the Lesotho government is considering an "equality in marriage" bill that would allow women to control property, inheritance and their bodies, the Tribune reports. Joanne Csete, director of the HIV/AIDS and human rights program at Human Rights Watch, said, "Women and girls in Africa are dying by the millions, partly because their second-class status makes them vulnerable to violence and unsafe sex." Mpeo Mahase, one of the 15 women in Lesotho's National Assembly, said, "I think women should be on an equal basis, and I think that feeling is growing," adding, "When you empower women, you empower the nation. Without change, out future is nonexistent." The Sexual Offenses Act, passed last year, is "one important victory for women," the Tribune reports. The act requires sex offenders to take HIV tests and requires men who rape while knowingly HIV-positive to face a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail, instead of suspended sentences of a few months in jail, as had been imposed previously (Goering, Chicago Tribune, 10/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.