Since 2004, Sahyog has been engaged in fighting for the rights of the many HIV-affected people in India. As there is still a strong social stigma, our help is most needed. We also noticed a wide lack of knowledge on this subject within the society.
Therefore, Sahyog has set up a Legal Guidance Centre for people affected by HIV/AIDS. This center was started with the vision to help people affected with this epidemic. We realized that these people are highly vulnerable and are easy victims because the awareness level of people about their rights is very low and the social stigma attached to them is strong. The work towards the fulfillment of the rights of the affected, to live their lives in dignity and equity to any other society member, often involves many legal issues.
Working area: AIDS
Since the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS has claimed 22 million lives and infected over 60 million people and surely it will kill millions more before it is controlled. Its destruction is fueled by a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual violence and coercion faced by women, stigmatization of sexually active homosexuals, abuses against sex workers and injecting drug users, and violations of the Right to Information on HIV transmission especially for young people.
In prisons, HIV spreads with frightening efficiency due to sexual violence, lack of access to condoms, lack of harm reduction measures for drug users, and lack of information. Human rights violations only add to the stigmatization of persons at higher risk of infection and thus marginalize and drive underground those who need information, preventive services, and treatment most desperately. Rights abuse fuel AIDS because abuses follow infection!
People living with the disease are subjected to stigmatization and discrimination in the society, in their workplace and in access to government services. Examples:
- Women, whose husbands have died of AIDS, are regularly rejected by their own and their husband’s families and their property is frequently taken from them.
- Thousands of children who have lost their parents due to AIDS or whose parents are living with the disease have lost their inheritance rights, need to take up hazardous labor, including prostitution, and have sometimes been forced to live on the streets where they are subjected to police violence and other abuses.
- Homosexuals who are engaged in HIV education among other homosexuals often get harassed by the police for not hiding their sexual orientation and their open activities to spread awareness of HIV. The police will arbitrarily accuse them of other made-up issues to discriminate them.