Sri Lanka Hosts Summit On Property Rights To HIV-Positive Women

Armen Hareyan's picture

The first regional summit on HIV-positive women being deniedinheritance and property rights was held on Saturday in Colombo, SriLanka, as part of the 8th International Congress on AIDS in Asia andthe Pacific, Caitlin Wiesen-Antin, United Nations Development Programme regional HIV/AIDS coordinator in Asia and the Pacific, said Thursday, Xinhua/People's Daily reports. The summit aims to increase public awareness about challenges faced by HIV-positive women, Wiesen-Antin said.


Accordingto Wiesen-Antin, 20 HIV-positive women will testify about theirexperiences in being denied inheritance or the right to hold propertybecause of their HIV-positive status at the Asia Pacific Court of Womenon HIV, Inheritance and Property Rights. In addition, about 30 expertsfrom several Asian countries -- including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India,Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Thailand andVietnam -- will offer testimony. "When women are denied their rights toinheritance and property, they are robbed of the social and economicempowerment needed to prevent HIV infection and cope with its impact onfamilies and communities," Wiesen-Antin said. She added, "With littleor no control over their sexual lives and burdened by abuse,exploitation and violence, women in the region are extremely vulnerableto HIV." About 30% of new HIV cases in Asia occur among women,Wiesen-Antin said (Xinhua/People's Daily, 8/17).

Therewere about 5,000 HIV-positive people in Sri Lanka at the end of 2005 --one of the lowest case loads in Asia -- but many Sri Lankans are atrisk of contracting HIV because of poverty and displacement, Reuters reports.Wiesen-Antin said the "challenge" in Sri Lanka is to keep the country'sHIV prevalence low. About 35,000 people were displaced last year duringconflict, the country's military has said, adding that it recently hasresettled more than 100,000 people in the eastern part of Sri Lanka."When people are displaced from their home, their usual system ofjustice sometimes does not exist," Wiesen-Antin said. She added that"under duress," some displaced people "resort" to commercial sex work,increasing the spread of HIV (Aneez, Reuters, 8/16). ICAAP will be held from Aug. 19 to Aug. 24 (Xinhua/People's Daily, 8/17).

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