Health Check for Human Rights

By Linda-Gail Bekker & Brian Kanyemba

Good health is fundamental for a good life. It is the trampoline spring that determines how high we bounce and what stars we reach. When a disease spans out of control and threatens the ability of large segments of a population to obtain and maintain good health, it becomes a public health issue.

Women* have many gender-unique experiences. Some of these are biologically determined: falling pregnant, giving birth; others are cultural: the relief of taking off a bra and the pain of high heeled shoes. Then there are situations that arise from gender inequality and patriarchal norms. This includes the experience of violence, which 1 in 3 women will experience at least once in their lives.

November 25 is the International Day for the Eradication of Violence against Women. This day recognizes the impact of gender-based violence (GBV), which goes beyond the mere physical damage. Mental health, economic self-sufficiency and resilience to disease are all affected. A strong, mutually-reinforcing association has been found between violence against women and elevated HIV risk (1).