Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) which initiates various projects aimed at curbing human rights violations has reacted to a story which appeared on Nyasa Times about sex workers abuse in Chitipa hospital.
One of the projects the organization implements is “Promoting Sex Workers Rights” whose overall goal is to reduce human rights violations against sex workers through increased access to justice and legal services in Malawi.
CHREAA describes the reports about Chitipa medical abuse as discriminatory.
In the story, Chitipa District Council Nutrition and AIDS Officer, Loti Makina accused sex workers of abusing medical resources at the district hospital arguing they frequently visit the hospital for sexual transmitted infections (STI’s) treatment.
According to Makina, the behavior is overstretching the hospital’s inadequate resources in procuring STI drugs.
Makina is reported to have made the sentiments at a two day workshop for faith leaders and members from AIDS affiliated Community Based Organizations (CBOs) held at NICE office in the district.
The meeting was aimed at equipping the participants with knowledge on issues of Human Rights, especially for people living with HIV and the marginalized minority groups.
CHREAA finds the statement Makina uttered as careless and discriminatory as it has only targeted sex workers amongst all the people who visit the hospital for STI treatment.
According to CHREAA Executive Director Victor Mhango, Makina’s statement contradicts section 20 (1) of the Malawi constitution which states that discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are, under any law, guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status or condition.
Makina was also violating the provisions of the Gender Equality Act of 2012, of section 19(1), which states that “every person has a right to adequate sexual and reproductive health” – which includes the right to:
(a) Access sexual and reproductive health services;
(b) Access family-planning services;
(c) Be protected from sexually transmitted infections;
(d) Self-protection from sexually transmitted infections;
(e) Choose the number of children and when to bear those children
(f) Control fertility; and
(g) Choose an appropriate method of contraception.
Also in Section 20(1)(a) provides that every health officer “shall respect the sexual and reproductive health rights of every person without discrimination”, Section 20(1)(b) states that every health officer “shall respect the dignity and integrity of every person accessing sexual and reproductive health services” , Section 20(1)(c) states that every health officer “shall provide family planning services to any person demanding the services irrespective of marital status or whether the person is accompanied by a spouse.” and Section 20(2) states that any person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable to a fine or imprisonment for three years.
Mhango further says it is in the interests of public health that all people are encouraged to use health services. By discriminating against specific groups, it discourages access to health services and fosters stigma and discrimination within the health services, which is detrimental to public health efforts, including the fight against HIV.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :