Zambia has many HIV-infected people, and sexual and gender-based violence is a widespread problem. Migrants are a particularly vulnerable group, especially those who do not have a residence permit and are afraid of contacts with authorities and the healthcare system. For this reason, Sida supports the work to improve the health of migrants in southern Africa.
“Violence is a major problem here in Chaisa. The men think they become more manly by beating a woman. Many have no job and are drunk all the time and think that the woman should take care of them and give them food,” says Edina Lutufyo.
33-year-old Edina is a volunteer in the slum Chaisa, where she works to support women's rights to healthcare and relationships without violence. One task of the volunteers is just to talk with people in her immediate surroundings in order to reduce the stigma of HIV infection so that more dare to test themselves and thereby receive help and support. Edina also provides advice and support to women who have been assaulted.
Through support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the local partner organisation Mulangile Women Organisation (MWO), the volunteers work against sexual and gender-based violence. This might involve sexual abuse, both within and outside the family. The violence also increases the spread of HIV and AIDS, particularly to young women since they are often financially dependent on men, have a shorter education and have their sexual debut at a younger age than men, who might also often have several parallel relationships.
“Diseases like HIV are spread extra readily to women through ‘dry sex’, a cultural phenomenon where women are expected to dry out their vaginas with herbs before sex, because men prefer this, which in turn damages mucous membranes and causes diseases to be spread more easily. These women need to know that they also have rights. But it is even more important that we involve the men in the discussions,” says Fidel Ndererege from Rwanda, who works as a volunteer for IOM.
He assists with the workshops for men and women about health, sexual and gender-based violence and sensitive issues.
Eight years ago, Edina arrived as a migrant from Tanzania in the hope of a better life. In Chaisa, located on the outskirts of Lusaka, live about 43,000 migrants from countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania, but a lot of Zambians also live there.
“It’s important that we give support to all groups, Zambians too, so as not to create conflicts in the area,” Fidel Ndererege underlines.
Through IOM, Edina has received training in finance and business management, in health issues and reproductive health, but above all in women's rights. She participates in campaigns to disseminate knowledge about relationship and gender equality issues and about the right of women to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life of all sectors of society.
“I walk around the area, talking to people about how we can live together harmoniously, and that we all have an equal value. I learned this from Mulangile Women Organisation,” says Edina.
Like many others, she is also a small business owner. When she first came to Zambia, she sold fabrics and sewed clothes, but she now makes a better living by recycling glass bottles that she buys and collects. She then washes them before selling them to the factory with a small profit of 0.3 kwacha (SEK 0.3) per bottle. It is heavy and laborious work, but since being involved in IOM’s activities, she has increased her profitability.
Thanks to hard work and support from IOM, Edina’s situation has become a little better. Today, she is fighting to get her residence permit extended, which would make it possible for her to open a bank account and obtain healthcare for herself and her family.