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Sexual violence, the extreme manifestation of male contempt for and hatred towards women, is abhorrent in itself. It can also be a death sentence in the age of AIDS. Addressing sexual violence is critical to creating healthy societies and to ending the spread of HIV. At AIDS-Free World, we speak out about sexual violence in all its forms, but focus particularly on the campaigns of rape increasingly waged by warring and political factions to humiliate, threaten and control populations.
Whether it’s politically-motivated rape in Zimbabwe or Kenya, or conflict-related sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we strive to end the culture of impunity that allows rape to rise to the level of a crime against humanity.
In concert with the pursuit of justice, we advocate at every possible level for accountability from those whose job it is to prevent the violence — governments and military leaders as well as multilateral agencies. When rapes occurred within miles of a UN peacekeeping presence in the Congo, we produced an analysis of the systematic failures within the UN system. When AIDS-Free World staff travels to affected countries, we make sure to meet with everyone from activists to survivors to heads of state where possible, so that we can develop an informed understanding.
We understand that unchecked sexual violence at every level, from intimate partner abuse behind closed doors to calculated public humiliation, is both a reflection of and a catalyst for the destructive power dynamics that govern human relationships and help HIV do its deadly work.
Sexual violence is, in our feminist analysis, one of the most abhorrent injustices and horrors that allow HIV to flourish, and it is therefore one of our most urgent concerns.