There is a strong link between disability, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS. Disabled people far more prone to domestic violence and indeed it is often considered the norm and acceptable. Several studies have shown that women with a history of physical and/or sexual abuse are more likely to contract HIV. Domestic violence is contributing towards the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections and the Government’s new Domestic Bill making domestic violence a public crime is a huge step forward in bringing about behaviour change. Lack of bargaining power, economic independence and fear of ostracism all affect women’s ability to protect their sexual health. At the core of the problem are gender-based inequalities that directly and indirectly contribute to the spread of the virus. Reversing the spread of HIV demands that women’s rights are realised and that women are empowered in all spheres of life.
Power International runs 21 radio clubs for disabled women in 4 provinces of Mozambique, two clubs supported by the Mercury Phoenix Trust. The women are trained as radio programme makers and their radio programmes raise awareness of issues that many disabled people face such as HIV/AIDS, discrimination, domestic violence and the Domestic Bill, lack of employment, health issues, nutrition, reproduction, hygiene and sexually transmitted diseases and general issues relating to women’s rights. Against a background of increasing violence towards women generally and the knowledge that women with disabilities are most vulnerable, Power International is starting a new two year project working with all 7 radio clubs in Zambezia to combat domestic violence. They have 50% backing from the European Commission and are looking for the other €75,500. The Mercury Phoenix Trust is hoping to be able to keep helping them.