Table of Contents

  • In 2000 the international community committed itself to eight ambitious but achievable Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among them halving the number of people living in poverty and stemming the spread of HIV. It also promised to provide leadership and uphold the human rights of people living with HIV. Commonwealth governments, being part of the international community and its commitments towards the MDGs, are working towards the achievement of the MDG targets.

  • ‘He was in the same clothes in a corner bed [of the hospital], no sheets nothing. The food that they had taken for him was lying there. He was blind, crippled and not talking.’ – L, unpaid carer, Jamaica

    ‘When we started getting the basket people use to laugh at us saying we are eating AIDS food….’ – Lillian, unpaid carer, Botswana

    ‘Right before she was brought to the hospital she was found lying in her own vomit with rotting food in her cell, cigarette butts everywhere and fruit flies all over.’ – Cynthia, unpaid carer, Canada

    ‘There is nobody on earth who can really stand beside me. Today I cannot do any work properly due to my HIV infection because people rebuke me or neglect me.’ – Hamida, unpaid carer, Bangladesh

    ‘The most difficult is that you have to stay indoors, you don’t go out. Since she don’t walk you have to stay indoors. She needs drinking water, she wants to go to the toilet, you have to carry her.’ – Amira, unpaid carer, Nigeria

    ‘My anger was with my own family because they would not come and visit us or bring food for her like what is normally done when someone is sick. It was like I had no family.’ – Ruth, unpaid carer, Papua New Guinea

  • ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’

    – Article 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948

    ‘(We)…commit ourselves to intensifying efforts to enact, strengthen or enforce, as appropriate, legislation, regulations and other measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against and to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people living with HIV and members of vulnerable groups, in particular to ensure their access to, inter alia, education, inheritance, employment, health care, social and health services, prevention, support and treatment, information and legal protection, while respecting their privacy and confidentiality; and developing strategies to combat stigma and social exclusion connected with the epidemic.’

    – Para 29, ‘Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS’, UN General Assembly, 2006

  • After the elaboration of the conceptual framework in the previous chapter, we turn to an examination of capability servitude in the stories of unpaid caregivers as told in their own voices to demonstrate how women, men and children perceive and experience the caring. In the absence of jurisprudence on ‘servitude’, what might be the conditions that could determine capability servitude?...

  • ‘Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights…’

    – Preamble: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

    ‘Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…’

    – Preamble: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • ‘1) The right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

    2c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases.

    2d) the creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.’

    – Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  • CEDAW General Recommendation 19 (1992) states that ‘genderbased violence, which impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of human rights and fundamental freedoms under general international law or under human rights conventions, is discrimination within the meaning of article 1 of the Convention’.

    CEDAW General Recommendations on health say that States should ensure the removal of all barriers to women’s access to health education and information in the area of sexual and reproductive health and allocate resources for programmes directed at adolescents for the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS. The General Recommendation on HIV/AIDS directs States parties to increase their efforts to disseminate information to increase public awareness of the risk of HIV infection and AIDS, especially in women and children.

    The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its General Comment No. 3 (2003), while setting out that the right to health (article 24) is central to combating HIV among children, notes that HIV affects a child’s civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. It further notes that the right to life, survival and development (article 6) and the right to have his/her views respected (article 12) should be the guiding themes in the consideration of HIV and AIDS at all levels of prevention, treatment, care and support.

  • ‘All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.’

    – Article 10 (1), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

  • It has become a truism that national strategic plans have, for the most part, been gender blind. This has meant that women have only appeared in them as pregnant women in prevention of vertical transmission programmes (in the attempt to identify HIV-positive mothers and ensure babies are not born HIV-positive), as sex workers and as youth. Otherwise women and girls are mostly invisible and their contribution goes unrecognised, including their work as unpaid carers. Yet there is a pattern to the way in which even these responses treat women that is telling as national HIV prevention and treatment strategies continue to rely on stereotyped perceptions of women’s sexualities even as they attempt to strike a balance between ‘containing’ women in the interests of public health and recognising women’s needs and interests given the realities of gender inequality, poverty, powerlessness and violence in their daily lives.

  • The researchers met at the 8th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (8WAMM) in Kampala, Uganda and began discussions on the 24/7 involvement of caregivers with people living with HIV and those struggling with the symptoms of AIDS. Building on the discussions and recommendations at 8WAMM – and in the context of the theme for the 53rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which focused on the ‘Equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS’ – the Commonwealth Secretariat decided to work on the issue of women’s role in HIV care and support, with a specific focus on their unpaid work.