The activism of women living with HIV in the fight for their rights is growing and cannot but admire. They know how to open the doors of any office, find arguments for persuasion, analyze facts and trends, and do not give in to difficulties and high tribunes.
March 11, 2019 Geneva. At the meeting of the pre-session working group of the 74th meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), representatives of the community of women with HIV, drug users and sex workers from Kazakhstan presented for the first time a shadow report from civil society on the situation of violation of rights against women. women from key populations.
The report is based on facts and studies of cases of violation of rights registered by non-governmental public organizations from 2015 to 2017.
– We believe it is critical to address institutionalized discrimination that violates women’s rights and impedes access to health and social services, and contributes to social and economic vulnerability. Women living with HIV have limited access to housing services in existing crisis centers designed for assistance to women victims of violence. In the capital of Kazakhstan, a young girl with a child who was abused by her husband in the winter is refused to be placed in a shelter because there is such a law and she has HIV. Article 118 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan provides for criminal punishment for creating a risky situation of HIV infection, which has the opposite effect – it contributes to a higher risk of HIV infection, violence and gender inequality in the family, in the health care system, in society, – Lyubov Vorontsova noted from the UN rostrum. – Representative of the Kazakhstan Union of People Living with HIV.
– Women who use drugs report extreme prevalence of police brutality. Due to stigmatization, pregnant drug addicted women are unable to access essential health services, including drug treatment, prenatal and postnatal care. Opioid substitution therapy is not available for women when hospitalized in any medical facility (including maternity hospitals, TB dispensaries, etc.). Immediately after childbirth, women are forced to travel to substitution therapy programs on their own to receive methadone drug support. According to the results of the Stigma Index study, 24.2% of women living with HIV were forced by medical workers to terminate pregnancy (abortion), 34% of women living with HIV have never received advice on reproductive capabilities, – said Oksana Ibragimova, project director of the Kazakhstan Union people living with HIV.
– The rights of sex workers are violated by medical personnel, in particular, they experience humiliation, physical and psychological violence, sometimes their HIV-positive status is disclosed to third parties. For this reason, sex workers refuse timely diagnostics in medical institutions. In Kazakhstan, there are no studies and disaggregated data in open sources regarding women prisoners. In the fifth periodic report, the State provides data on legislation that provides access to health care for women prisoners. But, this does not answer the question of whether this meets the needs of women prisoners, – emphasized Natalya Zholnerova, director of the public association “Amelia”.
L. Vorontsova, O. Ibragimova and N. Zholnerova not only talked about the situation with violation of rights against women from key groups, but also provided recommendations. Below is their essence.
To revise Article 118 “Infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV / AIDS)” of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated July 3, 2014 No. 226-V ЗРК in order to abolish the norm establishing criminal liability for the risk of HIV infection.
Create branches in crisis centers to work with drug addicted and HIV-positive women. Mobilize government efforts to expand the network of crisis centers and other emergency services for women survivors of domestic violence, and ensure adequate government funding for these institutions.
To amend the Order of the Minister of Health and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated December 21, 2016 No. 1079 “On Approval of the Standard for the Provision of Special Social Services to Victims of Domestic Violence”, limiting the possibility of women living with HIV staying in crisis centers.
Develop and adopt policies to humanize women who use drugs, laws and practices that respect human rights that will protect and exclude any discrimination and violence against women.
Include training activities for police officers on reducing stigma and discrimination against women from vulnerable groups into the complex of HIV and AIDS prevention programs at the local and national levels.
Actively investigate cases of violence and any illegal actions committed by law enforcement officials against sex workers, women who use drugs, registered and reported by civil society organizations.
Develop mechanisms to ensure personal safety and confidentiality that enable women to report incidents of violence without fear for their safety.
Ensure government funding to provide free family planning services, in particular contraception for marginalized and vulnerable women.
Train health care personnel to provide quality sexual and reproductive health services for women living with HIV, sex workers and women who use drugs.
To include the substitution therapy program in the national health care system and drug addiction practice, with further expansion and scaling in Kazakhstan, as well as to develop mechanisms for access to opioid substitution therapy treatment in inpatient settings (TB dispensary, maternity hospitals, etc.).
Conduct research on the degree of satisfaction with women’s sexual and reproductive health services in prisons, including data on women living with HIV and drug addicts, characterizing their access to antiretroviral treatment and drug treatment, including opioid substitution therapy.