International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Ghana, has appealed to chiefs and queens in the Volta Region to use their authority and influence to protect the rights of HIV positive women in their communities.
FIDA-Ghana made the call at an advocacy meeting in Ho with 30 chiefs and queens from the northern sector of the Volta Region.
It formed part of efforts to build, expand and strengthen collaboration and knowledge necessary in protecting the rights of women in general and HIV positive women in particular, Ms Benedicta Laryea, Project Co-ordinator, FIDA-Ghana told the Ghana News Agency
The Federation held a similar meeting with HIV Caregivers and HIV positive women paralegals in the region.
The chiefs and queens were briefed on Property Rights of Women in relation to succession, types of marriages in Ghana and marriage rights as well as gender inequalities and HIV.
They were told to refrain from dissolving or preventing an HIV person from marrying or inheriting property as a surviving spouse because that will be contrary to the laws of Ghana.
The meeting discussed some case studies and court decisions regarding property inheritance of surviving spouses, divorce, grounds for divorce and property rights under divorce.
Ms Susan Aryeetey of FIDA-Ghana, urged the chiefs and queens to use mediums such as local theatre and music as well as state institutions, films and non-governmental organizations to educate and inform their people on issues concerning gender and HIV, and their effects on the rights of women.
She said 68% of women in Sub-Sahara Africa were HIV positive and the trend has been rising in the last 10 years.
Ms Aryeetey said, women’s vulnerability to HIV stemmed from their marital situations and that married women were more vulnerable to becoming HIV positive than single women.
She said there was limited chance for married women to negotiate for safe sex with their husbands because of gender inequalities within the traditional society.
Ms Aryeetey said single women on the other hand had the leeway to negotiate safe sex with their partners because it would be easier for them to opt out of the relationship.
She cautioned that the seriousness of the situation confronting rural women regarding HIV should not be seen through urban lenses because the situations were not the same.
Ms Aryeetey appealed to the chiefs and queens to encourage young girls in their communities to seek information on HIV and sex ,so that they do not become victims out of ignorance.
Nana Ampem Darko III of Nkonya Ahodwo, said the interaction between FIDA-Ghana and the chiefs and queens was useful because, it explained a number of important issues which would help them to make informed decisions on matters that would be brought before them for advice and arbitration.**