Monday, May 16, 2022

BONELA takes issue with Ghanzi councillors

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) last week rapped Ghanzi District councillors on the knuckles for suggesting that government should take action to ensure that HIV positive women do not get pregnant repeatedly.

BONELA was irked by media reports that the councillors resolved to recommend the policy to government.

“Such comments are a reflection of the overwhelming lack of responsibility by men for their contributory role in HIV transmission. It is wrong to blame women alone for HIV transmission,” said Doris Kumbawa, BONELA’s Media and Advocacy Officer.

Kumbawa added that it is important to take note of women’s deep political, social, economic, and sexual subordination.

“Most laws discriminate against women, and pregnancy is often times symptomatic of violence against women. Women face a higher risk of HIV infection through forced sex than consensual sex,” she said.
She said women are sometimes deterred from seeking HIV testing and treatment because they encounter blame and abuse when they are found out to be HIV-positive. She said health systems are often places of prejudice and discrimination, rather than treatment and care.

Botswana is party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and Children (CEDAW), which gives women the right to reproductive choices and requires states to ensure that women’s sexual and reproductive rights are realized.

“The questions we should be asking ourselves are: why are women HIV positive in the first place? Why are they not on treatment or adhering to it? We must explore the factors that pre-dispose women to HIV infection and repeated pregnancies, and also urge men to play a role in protecting women from HIV infection,” said Kumbawa.

She called upon the councilors to retract their resolution and urged them to exercise due diligence when commenting on national issues because they are opinion leaders.

“The councilors should make sure that they do not fuel stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS,” she said.

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