Rights and choices of women living with HIV : a study of rural women resident in the eThekweni district.
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This study investigates the knowledge women living with HIV in South Africa have of their rights and it analyses the ways in which stigma prevents these same women from accessing their rights. Rights are defined as legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory. The study draws on qualitative data collected using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with women from eThekwini district, in KwaZulu-Natal. In total, four focus group discussions and 6 in-depth interviews were conducted with women aged between 24- 63 years and in-depth interviews with 2 key informants. In analysing the data the critical feminist paradigm was used and the focus was on social exclusions. The findings of the study suggest that women living with HIV lack information and are not aware of their rights. This study suggests that stigma hinders women from accessing or enjoying their rights. The findings of the study also suggest that women living with HIV are excluded due to their gender. Furthermore, the socioeconomic status of women living with HIV is further exacerbated by their status. This study found that socioeconomic status hinders women from accessing their rights, particularly around reproductive health issues. Rights of women living with HIV are violated in different contexts by different people including family members and there are certain mechanisms which are used to exclude them. The mechanisms used in violating the rights of women interviewed include not specifically asking for her consent, not adequately informing her, withholding necessary service and coercion. Furthermore, with the lack of information, campaigns within communities to provide relevant and sufficient information to community members with the aim to fight stigma and discrimination need to be initiated.
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