The Links between Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights and HIV in Rural Tanzania


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Author(s): MEASURE Evaluation

Year: 2017

The Links between Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights and HIV in Rural Tanzania Abstract:

A better understanding of women’s property and inheritance rights (WPIR) is critical for programs seeking to decrease HIV prevalence and hardships endured by women living with HIV in Tanzania. The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) (2004) claims that when women are barred from owning property, they are unable to secure resources that would allow them to improve their chances of preventing HIV infection.

HIV infection rates in sub-Saharan Africa remain high, despite ongoing prevention efforts (Oluga, et al., 2010). There are even concerns of human rights violations, where cultural practices such as widow inheritance and sexual cleansing have increased the risk of HIV transmission for widowed women (Agot, et al., 2010). Widow inheritance is a custom in which a relative of a deceased husband, typically the late husband’s brother, inherits the widow as his wife. In sexual cleansing or purification, one of the late husband’s relatives forces the widow to have unprotected sex.

Tanzania today faces a generalized epidemic, with one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world and a rising rate of HIV infection.

We constructed a two-stage conceptual framework for concurrent analysis of HIV progression and its influence on the lives of women in their marital families. One participant in Ilemela District commented that the “majority of individuals are not aware of their HIV status due to lack of testing behaviour, hence increased risk for transmission of HIV to their partners.”

The study revealed a deep and complex set of social and economic challenges hindering the use of innovative strategies to mitigate the vulnerability of widows.

A partnership between nonstate actors and government structures, in collaboration with development partners, is recommended to address the needs of women living with HIV or AIDS.

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