Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights & HIV

Script. coprights reserved @ amerrizwan
HIV and AIDS … the mere mention of the disease gets mixed reactions from literate and illiterate alike. Deep rooted social attitudes and stereotyping has made discussing AIDS, a taboo in Pakistan. Women, whether they are living in urban or rural areas, face one similar problem and that is of discussing their sexual health problems with their spouse or in-laws. Discussing family planning and safe sex is, most often, met with horrified glares. After getting married, women, whether they belong to any social strata, are expected to give birth to children one after another, with the physical pain that a woman has to endure while giving birth being ignored.

Only 21% of the women are educated in Pakistan and interestingly most of the programs that have been launched keeping in mind the sexual health problems of women have been successful in persuading them to use contraceptives but still the use of it is rare. The reason is simple that Pakistan is basically a patriarchal society where most of the decisions are taken by men. And due to their own lack of knowledge and dogmatic views on the subject, they don’t allow their women to use contraceptives.

Church World Service- Pakistan/Afghanistan, embarked as implementing partner for this challenging project under the DSW EuroLeverage Project. CWS-P/A is organizing HIV sessions in different parts of Pakistan to raise awareness among women regarding sexual and reproductive health rights.


Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) including HIV is an increasing problem in Pakistan as there is a lack of sexual health information among adults. Women in Pakistan are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS because, married or not, they are often not in a position to easily negotiate the use of contraceptives to their mates or partners. And most importantly most of them live in poor economic conditions with no health care centers in sight.


Health experts estimate that there are over 85,000 HIV- positive people in Pakistan and about 50% of them are in the province of Sindh. According to UNAIDS almost 40% of new HIV cases occur among women. Accurate number on the women infected with HIV in Pakistan is not available.

[A story of a woman working in Mansehra as RHR trainer] [I will email you story by tomorrow]

Rural women are the badly affected, as they are unable to confide their problems to anyone leave alone discussing their sexual issues. The problems pertaining to sexual and reproductive health of a rural woman are not as easy to comprehend as it is filled with complexities which needs to be understood by keeping in mind their role and status in their families.

It won’t come as a surprise that only 45% of our population has limited access to health care centers and majority of them have to go through severe health complications due to lack of proper information on health related issues, which results in death of innocent people most of the times.


Quacks are most often the easiest, and by far the cheapest help, people belonging to the lower class can think of when the situation for them gets unbearable. Most of the quacks can be found sitting at road sides and those that have progressed or have made big money out of fooling people have opened their clinics to legalize this illegal trade.


Women belonging to the lower socio-economic class have no access to obstetric and health care information and on top of that they are married at an early age which adds to the problem rather than solving it.

The most innovative quality of this project has been the Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan staff’s way of conducting the HIV sessions and the active participation of women form different walks of life.


To counter such implications many organizations are working day and night to provide relief to the poor and uninformed are alike but Church World Service- Pakistan/ Afghanistan’s aims to provide knowledge to a mass audience regarding their reproductive health issues, with measures to prevent them from HIV/AIDS and most importantly to make people, especially men, sensitive in discussing the health and sexual issues with their spouse is distinctive, innovative and result oriented.

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