Protecting Legal Rights of Women, Children Would Help To Reduce Their Risk of HIV Infection, Conference Attendees Say
A worldwide failure to protect the legal rights of women and children is exposing them to HIV, experts said on Wednesday at a conference of the International Federation of Women Lawyers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. The five-day conference, which began on Monday and is being attended by 200 delegates from 25 countries, aims to promote gender rights and highlight the experiences of people who have been subject to abuse and discrimination. Experts said that some women and children have been disadvantaged through long-standing cultural practices in many African countries, but the HIV/AIDS pandemic has highlighted the "urgent need" to reform laws to help them, according to AFP/Yahoo! News. Lorna Juliet Amujojo, general secretary of the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers, said some of those cultural practices include widow inheritance, in which widows are "inherited" by their brother-in-law after their husband's death, and the rape of women and children who are virgins in the belief that it will cure HIV/AIDS. Conference attendees called on governments to ensure property rights for women and enact legal protections from rape, physical abuse and discrimination. "The point is to reduce violence against women as a whole using legal means, and that would by and large also reduce women's vulnerability to HIV through violence," Marina Mahathir, president of the Malaysian AIDS Council, said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 11/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.