Women, violence and HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe


This paper presents evidence of the extent of violence against women in Zimbabwe. It also discusses the association of violence and the spread of HIV infection in southern Africa. Estimates on the different forms of violence (physical, psychological, sexual, and economically disempowering acts) were obtained by interviewing nearly 1000 women on their experiences. Findings confirmed that violence against women is widespread: adolescent girls, pregnant mothers, and married women experience violence. Of the women interviewed, 42% experienced some form of psychological abuse; 32% experienced physical abuse since age 16 years; 39% experienced economically disempowering forms of violence; and 37% experienced some form of sexual harassment or abuse. Notably, only 1 out of every 7 women interviewed did not report having experienced any form of violence. Likewise, it was noted that there were strong overlaps between the different forms of violence. Women's experiences of sexual harassment and abuse increase their vulnerability to HIV. Similarly, women's low status and lack of power severely limit the extent to which they can protect themselves against sexual violence and HIV infection, and women who adopt such prevention strategies are vulnerable to abuse. Therefore, recognition of the existing link between violence and HIV infection is important in the formulation of preventive strategies.


Watts, C.; Ndlovu, M.; Njovana, E.; Keogh, E. Women, violence and HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe. SAfAIDS news : Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service bulletin (1997) 5 (2) 2-6.

Women, violence and HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe

Published 4 December 2006