Regional Conference on Male, Youth and HIV & AIDS Networks towards the Prevention of Gender-based Violence



Theme: Strong hands stop genderbased violence, halt the spread of HIV& AIDS, and end gender inequalities in the ASEAN


The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Republic of the Philippines has made available resources and technical expertise through the International Commitment Fund to organize an ASEAN conference on gender-based violence or GBV, HIV & AIDS. This conference will highlight and focus the importance of strengthening the participation of men, youth and HIV & AIDS networks in addressing gender-based violence, halting the spread of HIV and how these actions can impact positively in stopping generational reproduction of gender inequalities in the ASEAN.

This conference builds on the gains of the ASEAN Conference on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the ASEAN Region in Jakarta, Indonesia, last 30 June 2004 where a Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (DEVAW) in the ASEAN Region was put forth and subsequently recognized by the ASEAN member states.

The ASEAN Declaration of 30 June 2004 states that in the context of strengthening regional cooperation, collaboration and coordination for the purpose of eliminating violence against women in the region, each Member Country, either individually or collectively, in ASEAN, shall endeavor to fully implement the goals and commitments made related to eliminating violence against women and monitor their progress.

The need to give priority to VAW issues was reiterated at the Third Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) last November 29 –– December 1, 2004. Preparatory to the holding of the Fourth ACW Meeting was then pursued by the ASEAN Secretariat and the Philippines as the Meeting host. With support from UNIFEM, the body agreed to develop the DEVAW work plan to implement the Declaration. This was drafted through a collective one-day Regional VAW Workshop by the PCW in coordination with the ASEAN Secretariat. The document was presented and approved with recommended 14 regional priority projects during the Fourth ACW Meeting in 2005. It was later approved by the ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC) in 2006.

The Philippines, through the PCW, were assigned two priority projects: (1) Regional ASEAN Conference on Gender-based Violence (GBV) and HIV –– AIDS which was successfully conducted last December 13,2009; and the (2) The Regional Workshop on Male Advocates and HIV & AIDS Networks to be held this November 15-16, 2012. The hosting of this Regional Conference was reiterated in the Planned Project and Activities under the ASEAN Committee on Women Work Plan for 2011-2016 during the 10th ACW Meeting held last October 3-4, 2011 at Bogor, Indonesia.

Thus, this conference responds to several agreements in the Declaration specifically:

  1. regional and bilateral cooperation in the systematic research, collection, and analysis of sex disaggregated data and relevant information on the impact and effectiveness of policies and programs for combating violence against women;
  2. promote an integrated and holistic approach to eliminate violence against women by formulating mechanisms focusing on the four areas of concern of violence against women, namely, providing services to fulfill the needs of survivors, formulating and taking appropriate responses to offenders and perpetrators, understanding the nature and causes of violence against women and changing societal attitudes and behavior;
  3. support initiatives undertaken by women’’s organisations and non-governmental and community-based organisations on the elimination of violence against women and to establish and strengthen networking as well as collaborative relationships with public and private sector institutions.

The conference is envisioned to provide a space to discuss and learn global experience in designing, programming and implementing gender responsive actions in addressing GBV and HIV & AIDS in partnership with men and adolescent boys and how it will ultimately contribute to preventing violence against women and girls in the ASEAN.

While there is mounting evidence that GBV is both a cause and consequence of HIV infection, programs and services designed to address these pandemics are largely fragmented [1] and men and boys do not yet actively participate. Perspectives of high school students on how they regard GBV and the gender issues surrounding will be a starting point for HIV & AIDS networks to share about their work in an effort to correct misconceptions in these young minds and imbue them with positive values and attitudes.

Service Providers will also integrate responses to GBV in existing HIV and gender equality programs and to establish linkages with agencies who are working with men and boys addressing GBV. The ASEAN Network of Male & Youth GAD Advocates will be explored as a collaborative agenda on implementing successful strategies and projects implemented at the national level which could be adopted by other countries. Knowledge generated from this conference is envisioned to inform the programming of gender equality and women’’s empowerment programmes and policies of ASEAN member states and that of their respective international development partners’’ ODA frameworks and programmes. The conference is also envisioned to provide a mechanism to track progress on the elimination of violence against women in the ASEAN.


CONTEXT

The 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines VAW as: “Any act of gender-based violence that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” These acts include: spousal battery; sexual abuse, including female children; dowry- related violence; rape, including marital rape; female genital mutilation/cutting and other traditional practices harmful to women; non-spousal violence; sexual violence related to exploitation; sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in school and elsewhere; trafficking in women; and forced prostitution.

GBV takes on many forms and can occur throughout the lifecycle, from the prenatal phase through childhood and adolescence, the reproductive years, and old age. Types of GBV include female infanticide; harmful traditional practices such as early and forced marriage, “honor” killings, and female genital mutilation; child sexual abuse and slavery; trafficking in persons; sexual coercion and abuse; neglect; domestic violence; and elder abuse.

Women and girls are the most at risk and most affected by GBV. Consequently, the terms “violence against women” and “gender-based violence” are often used interchangeably. However, boys and men can also experience GBV, as can sexual and gender minorities, such as men who have sex with men and transgender persons. Regardless of the target, GBV is rooted in structural inequalities between men and women and is characterized by the use and abuse of physical, emotional, or financial power and control[2].

Gender-based violence has been identified as a significant driver of HIV & AIDS. Global debates and literature on GBV and HIV & AIDS would show correlations, as cited by studies, on gender-based violence and HIV & AIDS especially among women and girls. Today, gender-based violence is a world- wide pandemic and directly affects the spread of HIV & AIDS. Fear of violence limits the ability of women and girls to choose their partners; to find out about a partner’s HIV status or disclose their own; and to get medical or counseling services[3].

Studies in some countries have shown that among adolescents, HIV infection rates are on average five times higher among girls than among boys. This is largely due to girls’ biological and social vulnerability. Women face additional and more acute discrimination when they are identified as being HIV positive. Because they are often first to test positive through pre-natal testing, they are branded as the “spreaders” of the virus. Once their HIV-positive status is revealed or disclosed, women face being physically abused, losing access to important economic resources, and face the threat of being chased from their homes.

Gender-based violence among lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) also suffered multi- layer oppression as it remains controversial in many countries receiving fewer resources allocation. Being considered as sexual minorities, LGBT experienced community marginalization including pressure to conform to sexual roles and expectations. Perpetrators of violence against LGBT justified their action with society’s homophobic disgust and lack of legal measures to support sexual minorities.

According to the Global Health Initiative a facility founded by the U.S. Government, physical violence or the threat of physical violence and coercion are all associated with HIV transmission. With this, it now becomes necessary to implement initiatives that will tackle one of the greatest threats to women’s health which is HIV & AIDS, by attacking another scourge: gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence is ubiquitous: no country can claim to have eliminated it, and one in three women will be its victim in her lifetime. In some countries, as many as seven in ten women are affected[4].

Physical violence or the threat of physical violence and coercion are all associated with HIV transmission for women of all ages. Numerous studies indicate that gender-based violence increases women’s and girls’ risk of contracting HIV infection three fold. Gender-based violence limits women’s ability to negotiate safe sexual practices, disclose their HIV status and access health services, thus helping to spread the HIV infection[5].

Violence against women and children are often associated on the political, economic and social power and strength that is associated with men. Women’s vulnerability to HIV infection has been associated with their economic dependence on men, sexual exploitation, coercion and rape, as well as by their engagement in informal and commercial sex work. Women’s lack of economic independence is brought about by lack of education and poverty. The situation of women and girls in this masculine-dependent context breeds inequalities and logically pave the way for physical violence or the threat of physical violence and coercion, which are all associated with HIV transmission.

The statistics for Asia-Pacific as expressed in the UNiTE to End VAW campaign will reveal how urgent the work at hand is:

  • 64% of women in the Solomon Islands[6], 36% of women in New Zealand[7], 34% of women in Viet Nam[8] and 18% of women who have been married in the Philippines[9], reported having experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner.
  • 14% of women in Japan reported sexual abuse before the age of 15 years[10] and 1 in 5 women in the Philippines have experienced physical violence since age 15[11].
  • 30% of women in rural Bangladesh reported that their first sexual experience was forced[12].
  • 15 – 65% of women in Asia experience violence in intimate partner relationships where VAW has been identified both a cause and a consequence of HIV infection. Research revealed that women who are beaten by their partners are 48% more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS than those who are not[13].

On the other hand, according to a study that appeared ahead of the 19th International AIDS Conference (July 2012), conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Baltimore, Maryland), HIV remains uncontrolled in MSM[14] in 2012. In Thailand and Malaysia, prevalence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among MSM is 15 percent or more. The biological reality is that unprotected anal sex carries a far greater risk of HIV infection than unprotected vaginal sex[15]. Given this finding, unprotected sex that characterizes forced sex associated with GBV among men and boys is considered as a transmission for HIV that is like a ticking bomb if left still hidden and unexplored.

Women and men in conflict areas also face the risk of GBV. Situations arising from war and un-peace breed violence where women and girls are the most vulnerable. Rape is a common incidence. Prostitution of women also occurs in times of war for economic and survival reasons. This form of survival is patronized by men soldiers[16].

The current labour migration also poses risks. Trafficking in persons- men, women and children are subject to sex trafficking, forced labour and involuntary servitude.

Another concern is that culturally, women are viewed as ‘objects’ or traditionally treated as a ‘property’ belonging to men; also, women are by age old traditions treated as subordinate to men. This cultural mind set is a factor in the increase of GBV, and the violation of women’s rights which have resulted in growing cases of HIV infection. Of concern, however, is that many people are ignorant of the link between these problems and culture. There is a need to make development agents, especially GEWE advocates, aware that there is not much that can be achieved in the response to HIV and AIDS and VAW/ GBV if programmes do not deal with the root causes that are often linked with the cultural mindsets and traditional practices.

Given that GBV is becoming one of the greatest threats to women’s health and has been identified as a significant driver of HIV & AIDS, the men and adolescent boys have to account as significant contributors to finding and implementing solutions to stop both GBV and spread of HIV. However, despite gains on women’s empowerment, gender equality programmes and projects do not yet significantly involve men and boys losing out on the potential of addressing generational reproduction of gender inequalities in the long run. Given that the alarm has been sounded, programmes on gender equality especially those that intend to impact on preventing violence against women and girls must now consider the potential of men and young boys and their contribution towards addressing the interrelated problem of GBV and HIV & AIDS.


Conference Objectives

On the whole, the conference is envisioned to inform participants on the state of knowledge concerning GBV and HIV, men and youth involvement and generational reproduction of gender inequalities.
Specifically, the conference aims to:

  • Surface global experience and learn effective ways in designing, programming and implementing gender responsive actions in addressing GBV and HIV & AIDS together with men, youth and HIV & AIDS networks.
  • Present and examine existing models of addressing GBV, HIV & AIDS in the ASEAN region:
    • Mainstreaming GBV and HIV & AIDS in formal education and non-formal streams
    • Addressing generational reproduction of gender inequalities at home and in the communities
    • Men and Adolescent Boys responding to GBV and HIV & AIDS at Home and in their Communities
    • Empowering women and girls to address GBV and HIV & AIDS at Home and in their Communities
  • Establish and strengthen networking as well as collaborative relationships with women’s organisations and non-governmental and community-based organisations including public and private institutions and individuals, experts and consultants doing work on GBV, HIV & AIDS and men and boys and masculinities approaches.

Finally, the conference is also envisioned to provide ASEAN member states solutions on how to strengthen current mechanisms for knowledge exchanges on the progress of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in the ASEAN Region and to improve future programming.


DOWNLOADS



[1] Khan, Alia. 2011. Gender-based Violence and HIV: A Program Guide for Integrating Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response in PEPFAR Programs. Arlington, VA: USAID’’s AIDS Support and Technical Assistance Resources, AIDSTAR-One, Task Order 1.
[2] Khan, Alia. 2011. Gender-based Violence and HIV: A Program Guide for Integrating Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response in PEPFAR Programs. Arlington, VA: USAID’s AIDS Support and Technical Assistance Resources, AIDSTAR-One, Task Order 1.
[3] http://www1.voanews.com/policy/editorials/Pepfar-Targets-Gender-Violence… accessed on 16 June 2012
[4] http://www.voanews.com/policy/editorials/africa/The-Gender-based-Violenc… 146484155.html accessed on 16 June 2012
[5] http://www.voanews.com/policy/editorials/africa/The-Gender-based-Violenc… 146484155.html accessed on 16 June 2012
[6] Solomon Islands Family Health and Safety Study: A study on violence against women and children, 2009.
[7] Fanslow, J., Robinson, E. Violence against women in New Zealand: prevalence and health consequences, 2004
[8] National Study on Domestic Violence Against Women in Viet Nam, 2010
[9] National Demographic and Health Survey, National Statistics Office, Philippines, 2008
[10] WHO Multi-country Study on Women?’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women, 2005
[11] National Demographic and Health Survey, National Statistics Office, Philippines, 2008
[12] WHO Multi-country Study on Women?’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women, 2005
[13]http://www.unescap.org/sdd/meetings/UNiTE/UNiTE%20Campaign.pdf visited last 20 September 2012
[14] MSM is a general term coined by AIDS experts in 1992, applying to gays as well as to heterosexuals and bisexuals who have male-to-male sex. In the Philippines, MSM is an abbreviation for “men having sex with men” or “males having sex with males”.
[15]http://www.interaksyon.com/article/38021/time-to-oerhaul-aids-strategies… visited last 20 July 2012.
[16] The paper by Aurora Javate De Dios of Women and Gender Institute (WAGI), Miriam College, on GBV elaborates on prostitution and other forms of GBV.