18 March 2012

Rwanda: Protect Rights of HIV Positive Women

There are disturbing reports that some HIV positive women are denied the right to inherit family property by their relatives. This information is from research carried out by Women's Network for Rural Development with support from UN Women.

After the death of their husbands, the women according to the research are thrown out of their homes. It is disturbing that such actions are still carried out in some communities, yet great strides in curbing the HIV pandemic have been registered.

Overcoming stigma directed towards HIV positive people has for long been seen as part of the strategy to curb the spread of HIV. It is also a means to mitigate the effects of the condition on those who are living with HIV.

The country has registered tremendous success with universal access to Anti retroviral treatment to all who test HIV positive. With availability of treatment, HIV positive people are able to live normal, healthy and long lives.

Therefore, it is out of ignorance and prejudice for anyone to deny inheritance rights to HIV positive women on the pretext that they will be dead soon.

There is no moral or legal reason that can support such a move as denying inheritance rights to those who are rightly supposed to inherit their spouses' property.

We can deduce that a combination of ignorance, opportunism and greed helps to perpetuate denial of inheritance rights by relatives of such HIV positive women.

It is important that people who still have such a mindset are sensitised about people living positively, and at the same time institutionalised and social protection of HIV positive women is enhanced.

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