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Gender vulnerabilities, spousal abuse and the incidence of HIV in Lesotho:a case for an integrative rights-based approach

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The article posits that imbalances in gender relations are influencing two distinctive yet connected crises for women in Lesotho: the HIV epidemic and spousal abuse. The overarching premise is that as spousal abuse is increasingly recognised and as HIV infections spread, responses to the phenomenon do not reflect the related risks and consequences in married women's lives. This article underscores the nexus of connections between HIV and spousal abuse in Lesotho, identifying potential areas for pragmatic state-led responses. Applying a rights-based approach, it assesses women's vulnerability to each problem at the individual, societal and programmatic levels, noting that there are both direct and underlying factors heightening risks for women. The article asks, what is the value added by a rights-based approach to the subject under discourse? And, how can a rights-based approach be translated into practical tools for planning, monitoring and evaluating projects and programmes aimed at tackling the multifaceted risks and challenges of HIV and spousal abuse confronting women in Lesotho? In response to these questions, the author identifies three trajectories of opportunities for an integrated, comprehensive response. The unmistakable anchor of the article's propositions is the rights-based approach. Although the discussion focuses on Lesotho, the implications for the broader African region cannot be overemphasised in light of commonly shared experiences pertaining to the severe difficulties posed by spousal abuse and HIV.
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Keywords: Africa; declarations; gender issues; human rights; legislation; married women; policy issues; vulnerable groups

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: North-West University, Mafikeng CampusPrivate Bag X2046Mmabatho2735, South Africa

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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