Since 2004, Sahyog has been engaged in fighting for the rights of the many HIV-affected people in India. As there is still a strong social stigma, our help is most needed. We also noticed a wide lack of knowledge on this subject within the society.
Therefore, Sahyog has set up a Legal Guidance Centre for people affected with HIV/AIDS. This centre was started with the vision to help people affected with this epidemic. We realized that these people are highly vulnerable and are easy victims, because the awareness level of people about their rights is very low and the social stigma attached to them is strong. The work towards the fulfillment of the rights of the affected, to live their lives in dignity and equity to any other society member, often involves many legal issues.
Working area: AIDS
Since the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS has claimed 22 million lives and infected over 60 million persons, and it will kill millions more before it is controlled. Its destruction is fueled by a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual violence and coercion faced by women and girls, stigmatization of sexually active homosexuals, abuses against sex workers and injecting drug users, and violations of the Right to Information on HIV transmission especially for young people.
In prisons, HIV spreads with frightening efficiency due to sexual violence, lack of access to condoms, lack of harm reduction measures for drug users, and lack of information. Human rights violations only add to the stigmatization of persons at highest risk of infection and thus marginalize and drive underground those who need information, preventive services, and treatment most desperately. Rights abuses fuel AIDS, because abuses follow infection!
Persons living with the disease are subject to stigmatization and discrimination in the society, including in their workplace and in access to government services. Examples:
- Women, whose husbands have died of AIDS, are regularly rejected by their own and their husband’s families and their property is frequently taken from them.
- Thousands of children who have lost their parents due to AIDS or whose parents are living with the disease have lost their inheritance rights, need to take up hazardous labor, including prostitution, and have sometimes been forced to live on the streets where they are subject to police violence and other abuses.
- Homosexuals who are engaged in HIV education among other homosexuals often get harassed by the police for not hiding their sexual orientation and their open activities to spread awareness of HIV. The police will arbitrary accuse them of other made-up issues to discriminate them.
HRLD has developed effective and innovative solutions to achieve its aims and has been building specialized initiatives around issues. Recognizing the potential of effective partnerships, HRLD works closely with other human rights and development organizations. HRLD units in various states use the following strategies:
- Legal Aid and Guidance for the HIV-affected to claim their rights
- Education about HIV/AIDS and the rights of affected people within the society