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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Gender based violence: Rape and HIV as weapons of war

Anne-christine D'Adesky, MS, Women's Equity in Access to Care and Treatment, 3345 22nd Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, 415 690-6199, acd66@hotmail.com, Mardge Cohen, MD, The CORE Center, 2020 W. Harrison, Chicago, IL 60612, and Kathryn Anastos, MD, Epidemiology, Montefiore Medical Center, 3311 Bainbridge Avenue, Bronx, NY 10467.

Issues: The intersecting epidemics of gender-based violence, HIV infection, and poverty fuel the increasing rates of HIV in women worldwide. Rwanda represents a particularly poignant example of the synthesis of these problems.

Description: Gender-based violence resulted in the synchronized HIV infection of tens of thousands of women. During the genocide in 1994, Hutu militia and gangs systematically slaughtered 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days. It is estimated that they also raped 250 000 women. The Hutu extremists fostered their political goals through mass sexual violence. They sexually assaulted young girls and women because of their gender in a systematic attempt to exterminate the Tutsis and their supporters. They used the weapon of HIV to cause a slow death, the ultimate punishment.

Lessons: Gender-based violence during conflict, as an instrument of genocide, is considered a crime against humanity when it is systematically directed against targeted civilian populations. These intentional acts violate human rights principles and responding to them is a matter of justice.

Recommendations: Addressing these human right violations requires responding to the physical, emotional, familial, and economic struggles caused by the civil war and genocide that continue to traumatize these women. Providing HIV care to survivors of genocidal rape requires integrating medical care with psychosocial support and addressing barriers to care for these women, including poverty. This grassroots empowerment model can serve women and children experiencing mass rape and sexual violence in other conflict zones.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Keywords: Violence, Women and HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Human Rights: War, Rape and HIV in Women

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA