Report says world leaders too slow stopping AIDS, protecting women

August 08, 2006

Dr. Paul Zeitz
WASHINGTON, D.C. — While there has been much rhetoric from world leaders about the need to end violence against women and children, programs are still moving far too slowly, according to a new report by the Global AIDS Alliance.

The report, to be released Thursday, Aug. 10, says that programs to help address violence and protect women and children are still scattered and small-scale, and counter-productive laws are still in place in many countries.

A year ago, President Bush announced his Women's Justice and Empowerment in Africa Initiative to help countries implement reforms to better protect women. However, none of the work promised by the initiative has actually been carried out.

In part for lack of resources, each year the UN's Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence against Women rejects about 97 percent of the applications for funding it receives. The Trust Fund has been able to distribute only $10 million since 1997.

"The world simply has not taken this issue seriously enough, and change is urgently needed if we are to have any hope of stopping AIDS," said Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, in a media statement.

Violence is extremely high in some regions. According to a recent survey, nearly one in two girls has been raped in Uganda, 29.7 percent in Ethiopia and 26.3 percent in Kenya, but reporting of sexual abuse to the police is low across all countries, with Ethiopia as the lowest reporting rate (1.5 percent) and only a 4 percent rate in Uganda, according to African Child Policy Forum (ACPF).

Yet, it is possible to change the attitudes and behavior of people, primarily men, who carry out this violence. Success has already been shown by innovative programs in South Africa, Egypt and other countries.

A total of at least $2 billion is needed for effective anti-violence programs, according to an estimate given in the report. Governments should implement a comprehensive approach that secures essential reforms in all sectors, provides economic empowerment, and mobilizes communities to take action. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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