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Gender and Behaviour

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Poverty, Migration and the Incidence of HIV/AIDS among Rural Women in Lesotho: A Rights-Based Approach to Public Health Strategies

D Olowu

Abstract


This paper discusses how migration, poverty and gender-based  discrimination have had an impact on HIV/AIDS vulnerability among rural women in Lesotho. It is based on data from a clinic-based HIV/AIDS prevalence study with 150 women aged 15-49 from two rural communities in Butha-Buthe and Mafeteng Districts of Lesotho, and existing legal and policy structures. It shows that existing efforts to address HIV/AIDS vulnerability among this population focus primarily on risk-taking behaviour and riskgenerating situations, and largely fail to address contextual issues that create and facilitate risky behaviour and situations. The paper  advocates that respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of individuals can reduce HIV/AIDS vulnerability and that greater emphasis must be given to the gender discrimination embedded in Basotho culture, the acute lack of access to health care and education in rural areas, and the precarious economic and social circumstances facing many migrants and their families in Lesotho.

Keywords: Lesotho, HIV/AIDS, rural women, gender-based discrimination, poverty, migration, public health.




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