How do national strategic plans for HIV and AIDS in Southern and Eastern Africa address gender-based violence? A women’s rights perspective
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant human rights violation and a key driver of the HIV epidemic in southern and eastern Africa. We frame GBV from a broad human rights approach that includes intimate partner violence and structural violence. We use this broader definition to review how National Strategic Plans for HIV and AIDS (NSPs) in southern and eastern Africa address GBV. NSPs for HIV and AIDS provide the national-level framework that shapes government, business, donor, and non-governmental responses to HIV within a country. Our review of these plans for HIV and AIDS suggests that attention to GBV is poorly integrated; few recognize GBV and program around GBV. The programming, policies, and interventions that do exist privilege responses that support survivors of violence, rather than seeking to prevent it. Furthermore, the subject who is targeted is narrowly constructed as a heterosexual woman in a monogamous relationship. There is little consideration of GBV targeting women who have non-conforming sexual or gender identities, or of the need to tackle structural violence in the response to HIV and AIDS. We suggest that NSPs are not sufficiently addressing the human rights challenge of tackling GBV in the response to HIV and AIDS in southern and eastern Africa. It is critical that they do so.