How to reduce HIV in Zimbabwe, make women uglier #WTFnews


  May 14, 3:22 pm

London, May 14 (ANI): A Zimbabwean politician has asserted that women should be compelled to bathe less and shave off their hair to make them less attractive, which would help curb the spread of HIV.

Senator Morgan Femai told a conference that he believed the killer disease had spread as men found it difficult to resist attractive and well-dressed women according to a report on the New Zimbabwe website.

The politician reportedly insisted that new laws should be drawn up forcing women to make themselves less attractive to save men from themselves.

Addressing a parliamentary workshop on HIV awareness, Senator Femai compared his plan to some Christian sects whose women he said also sometimes had clean-shaven heads.

“What I propose is that the government should come up with a law that compels women to have their heads clean-shaven like what the Apostolic sects do,” he said

“They should also not bath because that is what has caused all these problems.”

The politician compounded his comments by explaining his belief that moisture inside women’s bodies made them more vulnerable to the HIV virus.

“Women have got more moisture in their organs as compared to men, so there is need to research how to deal with that moisture because it is conducive for bacteria breeding,” he said.

“There should be a way to suck out that moisture.”

The senator’s scientifically unproven remarks have sparked outrage and disbelief in Zimbabwe.

Hundreds of concerned readers posted comments on local media websites in which they criticised his comments. (ANI)

Immediate Release- Solidarity March: Justice for sex worker Mothers


 

PRESS RELEASE

Solidarity March: Justice for sex worker Mothers

Women’s groups and progressive organisations in India are shocked that Ms. Anu Mokal, a pregnant sex worker in Satara, was beaten up by police inspector Dayanand Dhome on April 2, along with her friend Ms. Anjana Ghadge. Three days later, on 5th April, she suffered a miscarriageThe incident occurred on 2nd  April 2012,  around 7.30 pm, when Anu Mokal, who was four months pregnant, and Anjana Ghadge were bringing dinner for their friend who was admitted in the civil hospital. Near the Satara bus stand area, senior Police Inspector Dayanand Dhome accused them of soliciting and when they refuted it abused them and called them liars. Dhome and his subordinates started beating Anu and her friend Anjana. Dhome repeatedly kicked them and said that women like Anu are a ‘shame’. Her pleas that she was four months pregnant fell on deaf ears. Anu and Anjana were detained and put in a lockup. They were eventually released on April 3.

On the following day they were produced before the magistrate and were released after a payment of Rs 1200 fine for soliciting [which they were not doing at that time]. They were taken to the civil hospital by members of Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad [VAMP] an organisation that works among sex workers and Anu received medication.  Anu has alleged that Mr. Dhome kicked her because of which she fell down and suffered a miscarriage. Anu has reportedly said that she was going to a hospital to meet her friend, when Mr. Dhome abused her and beat her up, calling women like her a “shame.” Women’s organisations are outraged that even after one month no action has been taken against the policemen who brutally assaulted Anu Mokle.

Anu has filed a complaint against Inspector Dhome and his colleagues with the Satara Superintendent of Police K. M. M. Prasanna. SANGRAM (an organisation that runs the Maharashtra State AIDS Society HIV/AIDS prevention project with women in sex work and sexual minorities in Satara District), has also sent a written complaint to the Home Minister R.R.Patil, SP K.M.M  Prasanna, and the Regional DIG Tukaram Chavhan, demanding that action be taken against Dayanad Dhome and others, but no action has been taken so far. DSP Prasanna told a delegation from VAMP on 30th April that an enquiry has been instituted but he did not commit as to when one can expect its result.

Anu and Anjana are are asking for justice and their right to get a hearing. Anu feels that the miscarriage due to severe beating and the subsequent trauma are not taken seriously because she is a sex worker. In fact, the police had the audacity to tell these women that sex workers cannot be mothers.

Our demands are as follows:

1. The Inquiry in the case is expedited and the report be made public.

2. Inspector Dayanand Dhome be suspended with immediate effect.

3. A grievance committee be set up by the Maharashtra Government, which includes members from the field of sex work, women rights, police, law, so that such incidents are not repeated and whereby victims of assault, false cases and violence get speedy justice.

4. The Maharashtra Government which runs the HIV/AIDS programmes with sex workers have a policy that eliminates police violence against sex workers male/female and transgender.

PL SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION HERE   justice-for-anu-mokal

 

The following action plan has been planned for Monday, the 14th of May 2012

  1. Organisations from Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka,  Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu  have endorsed the march and will participate along with children of sex-workers, and women in sex-work, in Satara on Monday, the 14thof May.
  2. Mitra collective will lead the march to affirm their strong relationship with their mothers who are part of ‘vamp’ the sex-workers’ collective in southern Maharashtra.
  3. March route; Rajwada chowk- Malharpet – DSP office – Powai naka – Collectorate, Satara.
  4. Time 3-6pm.

In solidarity,

Raju Naik

President,

Mitra Sanghatana [Collective of children of sex workers]


Related articles

Sex workers cannot be mothers – says Satara police #WTFnews



Anu Mokal, a pregnant woman was beaten up by Police in Satara, Maharashtra. She was so severely beaten  that she had a miscarriage and lost her baby. No Law in the country allows Police to physically assault a women. This case is worst because male cops have assaulted a female victim.

Her fault, being a sex worker

Actually, i feel very demoralized because if the police had done this to a non sex worker everyone would be up in arms. NO body reacted after it appeared in the papers in Satara, too. When they met me Durga said, if it was a `gharguti’ [wife] woman everyone would protect her womb, [ vanshacha diva – heir] but because it is a sex worker her fetus is not considered sacred or that she has a `vansh’, as a `bad woman’. That is what the police and society think, in any case.- Meena Seshu of SANGRAM
On 2nd April, around 7:30 PM, Anu Mokal accompanied by Anjana Ghadge were taking dinner for her friend Jaya Kamble who was undergoing treatment in the local civil hospital. When they were passing the Satara bus stand area, senior police inspector Dayanand Dhome started yelling at them using abusive language. When they told him that they were only taking food for their friend, he called them liars and without any provocation, Dhome and his subordinates started beating Anu and her friend Anjana Ghadge.

Dhome repeatedly said that women like Anu are a ‘shame’ to him while he continued to kick her. Anu fell down and pleaded that she was four months pregnant but they continued kicking and beating her. She was then forcibly taken to the police station. Anu and Anjana were detained and put in a lockup from where Anu and Anjana were routinely taken to civil hospital for treatment. Anu told the doctor she was pregnant and he prescribed medication, but the police didn’t allow her to buy nor did they give the medication to her.

On 3/4/2012 they were produced before the magistrate and were released after a payment of Rs 1200 fine for an offense not known to them or specified. They were taken to the civil hospital again by members of Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad [VAMP], a network of sex workers and Anu received medication.

But on 5/04/2012 night, she suffered a miscarriage. The miscarriage is quite likely to have resulted from the trauma of the thrashing by Dayanand Dhome and his subordinates. She has filed a complaint against Inspector Dhome and his colleagues with the Superintendent of Police K. M. M. Prasanna. However, her complaint and visit to the SP have been in vain.

SANGRAM the organisation that runs the Maharashtra State AIDS Society HIV/AIDS prevention project with women in sex work and sexual minorities in Satara District also sent a written complaint to Home Minister R.R.Patil, DSP Prasanna, Satara and Regional DIG Tukaram Chavhan, demanding that action be taken against Dayanad Dhome and others, but to no avail. DSP Prasanna told a delegation from VAMP on 30/04/2012 that an enquiry is instituted but would not commit as to when we can expect a result.

Anu and Anjana are are asking for justice and their right to get a hearing. Anu feels that the miscarriage due to severe beating and the subsequent trauma are not taken seriously because she is a sex worker. In fact, the police had the audacity to tell these women that sex workers cannot be mothers.

We Demand

1. The Inquiry in the case be expedited and the report be made public

2. Inspector Dayanand Dhome be suspended with immediate effect.

3. A Grievance committee be set up by the Maharashtra Government, which includes members from the field of sex work, women rights, police, law, so that such incidents are not repeated and they get speedy justice.

4. The Maharashtra Government which runs the HIV/AIDS programmes with sex workers have a policy on Police violence against sex workers male/female and transgender.

PLEASE SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION AND SHARE WIDELY

Don’t Let Your Governments Trade Away Our Lives


In an open letter to the citizens of Europe, the Chairperson of South Africa’s world famous Treatment Action Campaign appeals for collective action to stop European leaders pursuing harmful intellectual property provisions in the EU-India free trade agreement. India supplies 80% of the HIV medicines used in developing countries – the free trade agreement threatens this live saving supply.

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Europe

from Nonkosi Khumalo, Chairperson, Treatment Action Campaign, South Africa

Dear Citizens of Europe:

We are writing to you as people living with HIV/AIDS, who rely on access to affordable medicines to stay alive. We are writing to you because your governments are pushing to limit our access to medicines through a Free Trade Agreement the EU is negotiating with India, which is the world’s largest producer of affordable generic medicines. This week, as the EU and India meet for a summit in Delhi, our lives hang in the balance as the two sides make trade-offs to come to an agreement. Don’t let your governments trade away our lives.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was launched in South Africa in 1998 at a time when people across Africa were dying from AIDS because they couldn’t afford the high price of life-saving antiretroviral medicines. Over the past decade, TAC has campaigned with our international partners for affordable access to these medicines – seeing a nearly 99% drop in the price of a standard triple drug combination, from roughly 9,000 EUR per patient per year in 2000 to below 115 EUR per patient per year today. These prices came down primarily because of market competition among generic drug producers in India. Yet the battle for medicines access is not over, and many medicines, including cancer drugs and newer HIV medicines that people need after time, remain inaccessible to people in the developing world because of their high price.

We implore you, as citizens of the European Union, to stand with us against policies that are being pursued by your governments through the EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that will block our access to affordable medicines – putting our health and lives at risk. The agreement is being negotiated in secret, without opportunity for input by the citizens of EU member states and India. The EU has threatened to back out of the negotiations if the FTA is not signed by February – an attempt to force India to accept many of the harmful provisions the EU demands.

Ensuring that access to HIV medicines is protected is crucial to save lives and also reduce transmission of the virus. Last year, a landmark clinical trial showed that HIV treatment reduces by 96% the risk that the virus will be passed on. It is imperative that medicines remain available and affordable so that we can begin to turn the epidemic around.

India is often called the ‘pharmacy of the developing world.’ A study found that between 2003 and 2008, India supplied more than 80% of the HIV medicines used for the treatment of people living with HIV in developing countries. Beyond HIV, India is a vital supplier of affordable generic medicines to treat many other diseases.

But all this could change if the EU continues to pressure India to agree to more stringent intellectual property protection than that required by international trade rules. The United Nations, the World Health Organisation, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID have all warned against the adoption of these stringent measures that exceed India’s obligations. The adverse impact these excessive intellectual property provisions have on access to medicines is well documented.

The harmful measures pushed by the EU include: so-called ‘data exclusivity’ that will delay the registration of generic medicines; investment rules that will allow multinational companies to sue the Indian government for implementing pro-health policies, and intellectual property enforcement measures that will, for example, block legitimate medicines from leaving India on their way to patients in other developing countries. The EU’s own experiment in increasing the enforcement of intellectual property has already had harmful consequences on access to medicines, with generic HIV medicines made in India being detained by European Customs officials on their way to Africa on allegations of intellectual property violation. The very real consequence of these seizures is stock-outs of medicines in clinics in poor countries and the interruption of life-saving treatment. The EU is now trying to legitimize these measures through trade agreements.

The European Parliament itself has recognised the role of India in supplying medicines to the developing world and understands the policies the European Commission (EC) is pushing through the FTA will have “a detrimental impact … on the availability of generic medicines.” Since the FTA negotiations started in 2007, health and public interest groups have repeatedly written to the European Commission asking them to remove these harmful demands. Across Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe, people living with HIV have taken to the streets demanding that the EC withdraw its demands. Yet the EC persists.

As people living in developing countries, we are deeply dismayed that EU governments are pushing policies that prioritize profits of the already extremely profitable pharmaceutical industry at the expense of our lives.

For the first time in the history of the epidemic, we can now talk about reversing HIV/AIDS. We now know that HIV treatment itself—which TAC and countless other groups across the developing world have fought for over the past decade—holds the key to stopping infections. As citizens of the EU, we ask you to stand with us in solidarity by calling on your leaders not to pursue harmful intellectual property provisions in the FTA that will take this treatment out of our hands.

We ask you to stand up for our lives.

Nonkosi Khumalo, Chairperson, Treatment Action Campaign, South Africa

The EU-India Free Trade Agreement: is it the end of the world as we know it?


European Union

Image via Wikipedia

This week, Indian and European Union (EU) trade negotiators in New Delhi will most likely announce that they have reached a preliminary agreement on a trade pact that will forge a new commercial relationship between the two economies. The EU wants the pact to include new intellectual property (IP) rules that go beyond current requirements under international law. These new IP rules would serve the interests of multinational pharmaceutical companies in Europe, while drastically increasing medicines prices for millions of poor people in India and other developing countries.

If India accepts the new rules, the impact on public health would be severe, especially for the poorest people in India who buy medicines out of pocket. The Government has found that 80% of all out of pocket expenses for health care are medicines, meaning people are highly sensitive to any rise in medicine prices. If the Indian Government caves in to EU demands, it may force Indian households to forego life-saving treatment in the future, or to make difficult choices between medicines and other basic necessities. Some States in India have recognized the negative impact of people paying out of pocket for medicines and provide free medicines instead. Such a scheme is working particularly well in Rajisthan for example. However, such progressive programs could be put at risk if medicine costs rise as a result of this trade agreement.

Compounding these concerns is India’s role as the ‘pharmacy of the developing world’. India produces over two-thirds of all of the generic medicines (identical copies of originator medicines) used in low and middle income countries, including over 80% of all medicines used to treat HIV and AIDS. Competition in the Indian marketplace is fierce, and producers continuously innovate new ways to reduce the cost of making quality medicines, both simple and complex. Competition from Indian generics has reduced the cost of providing treatment for a range of illnesses through multilateral and government programs, in addition to making quality medicines more accessible for patients who must buy them out of pocket. The price of medicines to treat HIV and AIDS fell drastically, from 10,000 USD per patient per year, to less than 80 USD, thanks in large part to robust generic competition amongst manufacturers in India.

Yet India’s role as pharmacy of the developing world is already eroding. Today, India is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and therefore already plays by certain trade rules, including in relation to intellectual property. For instance, it must provide patents, which confer a time-limited monopoly, to innovative companies to reward them for developing new products including medicines. Indian companies must wait for a patent to expire before they can produce identical, quality copies of innovator medicines for use in India and for export to poor patients around the world. From 2005, India started granting patents for medicines, meaning delays to provide generics are increasing.

It hasn’t been all bad news until now. An important feature of these global trade rules is they do not prevent countries from addressing public health concerns, including high medicine prices. Countries have recourse to a set of policy tools that can be used to keep medicine prices from rising, and to ensure that competition can be stimulated to bring down prices. The right of countries to use these tools was affirmed in 2001, when WTO members unanimously agreed to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, which stated that the rules must be applied in a way that promotes public health and, in particular, access to medicines for all. Having entered trade negotiations with the EU, the Indian Government is under immense pressure from EU trade negotiators to accept stricter IP rules that contradict the Doha Declaration and to give up these tools and provisions that can safeguard the health of millions of people in India and other developing countries. Such strict new rules can be extremely damaging when implemented in low and middle-income countries.

Oxfam has observed over time a measurable, negative impact on access to medicines in those countries that have implemented stricter IP rules along the lines of those proposed by the EU. For instance, a 2007 Oxfam study in Jordan found that medicines prices rose by 20% following implementation of a 2001 trade agreement with the United States, with the cost of medicines to treat heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in Jordan, rising markedly. A second study published in Health Affairs in 2009 found a similar impact in Guatemala following implementation of its 2005 trade deal with the United States.

Why do costs keep going up as IP rules get stricter? When armed with patent monopolies on new medicines, innovator pharmaceutical companies charge the highest price a market will bear, even if this means the product is unaffordable for government health programs and poor people. Competition from generics producers brings down prices for medicines that have gone off-patent – but new treatments remain unaffordable during the monopoly patent period. The innovator companies argue they are changing their pricing policies for new products which are under monopoly protection, and, indeed, some companies appear to be trying to find ways to improve access for patients in poorer countries. Oxfam has applauded some of these changes. Overall, however, our assessment is that this is an industry that is still failing to put access to medicines at the heart of its business model. Indeed, the cost of new medicines under patent, even when companies say they have tried their best, remains too high.

The dangers of high medicine prices are relevant for communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, and also for non-communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes.The World Health Organization estimates that over 80 percent of all deaths from non-communicable diseases now occur in low-income countries. Less than six months ago, the United Nations issued a landmark political declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases, calling attention to the enormous challenges faced by rich and poor countries alike in addressing NCDs in the coming decades. Like HIV/AIDS, treatment for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes often requires extended treatment, making the cost of medicines a crucial factor as to whether patients can receive health care.

Today, in an era of economic crisis and austerity, ensuring that foreign assistance is effective means the global community must find every way possible to save money, including keeping down the price of medicines.The European Union has done much to provide effective aid in the health sector. It has harmonized its aid through budget support, and it has invested in effective multi-lateral institutions such as the Global Fund. However, these efforts are countered by an EU trade agenda that would harm public health in poor countries.

Civil society groups and public health experts around the world will hold their collective breath next week as the final deal is announced and finalized. As in any negotiation, both sides must make trade-offs in order to reach a final agreement. One hopes that India will recognize that public health, both of millions of Indians and millions of people in other developing countries, should not be traded off. Rohit Malpani is a campaigns advisor at Oxfam and leads the organization’s access to medicines campaign.

Rohit Malpani is a campaigns advisor at Oxfam and leads the organization’s access to medicines campaign

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