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Epidemic of Inequality: Women's Rights and HIV/AIDS in Botswana & Swaziland

An Evidence-Based Report on the Effects of Gender Inequity, Stigma, and Discrimination

May 2007

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Deeply entrenched gender inequities perpetuate the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Botswana and Swaziland, the two countries with the highest HIV prevalence in the world. The legal systems in both countries grant women lesser status than men, restricting property, inheritance, and other rights.

Social, economic, and cultural practices create, enforce and perpetuate legalized gender inequalities and discrimination in all aspects of women’s lives. Neither country has met its obligations under international human rights law. As a result, women continue to be disproportionately vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. This is most starkly demonstrated by the association of gender discriminatory beliefs and sexual risk-taking documented in this report.

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