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Ghana/Violence: Vulnerability of women in the northern regions, major cause of HIV/AIDS

21 Nov, 2009
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Tags: violence

Bolgatanga, Dec. 21, GNA - A Research, carried out by Action Aid Ghana (AAG), an anti-poverty Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), has revealed that Violence Against Women" (VAW) is one  of the major causes of HIV/AIDS in the three Northern Regions of the country.

Mr Gregory Dery, a Programme Officer of AAG, disclosed this at a stake holder's Meeting on HIV/AIDS, held in Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region on Friday.

The meeting, which was organized by AAG and attended by Community Based Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and the Media, among others, was aimed at effectively strategizing on how to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Region.

It was also to reposition the "Ghana NGO's HIV/AIDS Network (GHARNET)" to coordinate all NGOs HIV/AIDS activities in the Region in collaboration with Municipal/District and Regional Focal Persons.

Mr Dery explained that, the research on "HIV and violence against women", which was conducted two years ago, revealed that, sexual violence against women especially, rape and forced marriages, increased women's vulnerability to HIV.

He said the fear of violence also prevented women from negotiating for safe sex, while stigmatization, abusive language and physical assault prevented them from testing and declaring their status.

Mr Dery said the findings indicated that, as a result of domestic violence, many women had to vacate their marital homes and resort to sex trade to survive, adding that, the stigma and violence often meted out to women who tested HIV positive forced them to seek solace in commercial sex business.

The research, he said, also found out that, majority of the women in Northern Ghana had no knowledge about the existence of protective laws in favour of women and their rights and had no funds to access justice.

The research recommended that in order to give impetus to addressing Violence and HIV, Religious bodies and traditional authorities should get themselves involved in the crusade against violence against women. Government should also review policies and programmes on violence against women.

The Programme Manager of AAG in charge of Upper East Region, Mr Michael Lumor, was not happy that, activities on HIV education in the Region had been relegated to the background.

He said this was because, the strategies of some organizations, pursuing education on the pandemic, are poorly coordinated and inconsistent, adding that,

Stakeholders would not work as long as external funding did not come their way.

Mr Lumor stated that, there was the need for an effective dialogue towards achieving a coherent system to deal with the pandemic, and it was against this back drop that his outfit organized the stakeholders meeting.