A Dose of Reality

Women’s Rights in the Fight against HIV/AIDS

Governments around the world have done far too little to combat the entrenched, chronic abuses of women’s and girls’ human rights that put them at risk of HIV. Misguided HIV/AIDS programs and policies, such as those emphasizing abstinence until marriage, ignore the brutal realities many women and girls face. By failing to enact and effectively enforce laws on domestic violence, marital rape, women’s equal property rights, and sexual abuse of girls, and by tolerating customs and traditions that subordinate women, governments are enabling HIV/AIDS to continue claiming the lives of women and girls. Human Rights Watch has interviewed hundreds of women and girls living with HIV around the world. This briefing paper focuses on the links between HIV/AIDS and abuses of women’s and girls’ human rights.

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