Reclaiming our Lives: HIV and AIDS, Women's Land and Property Rights, and Livelihoods in Southern and East Africa
Abstract: Property-grabbing from widows and orphans began long before the HIV and AIDS pandemic. However, the scale of HIV infection rates, stigmatisation, and the social and economic vulnerability of widows and orphans have worsened the situation. Targets of psychological and physical harassment, dispossessed of their property and evicted form their homes, women and children are left destitute. Too often, the personal stories of both hardship and resilience in the face of adversity are lost in the statistics and dry overviews of national policies and epidemiological trends. Excluded from statistics, these women and children become invisible. This collection of narratives from southern and East Africa aims to raise awareness not only about the heavy impact of HIV and AIDS in the region but also about the active steps being taken by many grassroots organizations to respond to the crisis. It is evident that, while the pandemic is biting deeply into the social fabric of communities, it is also galvanising ordinary women and men to respond with compassion and conviction, and to find innovative ways of defending and promoting the rights of HIV-affected women and children. These stories expose the immense human cost of discriminatory laws and practices, and pointing to the social, policy and legislative changes that are necessary to combat the pandemic effectively.