Cry the beloved continent ...” Exploring the impact of HIV / AIDS and violence on women’s reproductive and sexual rights in Southern Africa.
The impact of violence on women's personal, sexual, social and reproductive life reduces their autonomy and destroys their sense of personal safety and quality of life. In the context of HIV/AIDS, the issue of sexual violence takes on alarming proportions since violence against women fuels the epidemic and the epidemic exacerbates the impact of violence against women. This paper considers the extent to which violence against women and reproductive autonomy have become "actionable" for women in Southern Africa, and whether countries have adequately managed to protect women by contextualising violence against women as a reproductive rights issue and visa versa, or whether they have failed to protect women by silencing and masculinising women's realities. It will be argued that all jurisdictions have made progress toward a feminisation of the law but that significant lacunae and problems still remain, particularly in relation to a masculinist approach to violence against women and reproductive autonomy in the context of HIV/AIDS. State responses in the form of protective and coercive measures are examined with issues such as violence against women as a pre-disposing factor to HIV and violence upon disclosure of women's status being considered. In addition, coercive practices such as the criminalisation of HIV-related behaviour and forced sterilisation are considered. (author's)