New film depicts the suffering of women living with HIV
Saturday 13 March 2004
 

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ETHIOPIA: New film depicts the suffering of women living with HIV


©  IRIN/Anthony Mitchell

Genet Zewde, Ethiopia's Education Minister

ADDIS ABABA, 6 January (PLUSNEWS) - Ethiopia's first-ever film depicting the real-life tragedy being brought about by HIV/AIDS was broadcast across the country on Monday. The documentary is a powerful portrayal of the lives of women in Ethiopia who have become victims of discrimination and stigma because they are infected with the virus.

"It is a very depressing film," said Meaza Ashenafi, who heads the Ethiopian Women's Lawyers Association, after seeing the premiere of Siwir Enba, or Hidden Tears. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has had a crippling effect on Ethiopia, where, according to government estimates, some 2.2 million people are living with HIV.

One in 10 global deaths due to AIDS happens in Ethiopia, and HIV has orphaned 1 million children there. About 230,000 children have been infected.

The 45-minute film was first shown to government ministers and campaigners fighting the virus at a special screening in the capital, Addis Ababa. It was then broadcast on state television. As yet there are few laws within Ethiopia's constitution being enforced to protect victims of stigma prompted by HIV/AIDS, such as those losing their jobs or homes.

"This film showed women who have been stigmatised," said Gifti Abasiya, who is the Ethiopian minister of state for women's affairs. "The more we know about stigma and what is means to women the better we will be able to fight it," she told PlusNews after watching the premiere. "The film reflects the situation of Ethiopian women, economically, socially and politically, and this is what we have to change."

Education Minister Genet Zewde said she was considering using the film as an educational tool in the country’s schools. "This film is very important, because it shows the damage that we are doing by discriminating against women who have been infected with the virus. These are real issues, these are true stories and they depict how traditional and harmful practices can have a negative effect on the lives of women in this country," she said.

Already, some 1,500 copies of the film have been made for distribution around the country and for use by NGOs fighting the virus.

The film project was sponsored by the government's HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office. The US-backed Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provided support, along with the Walta Information Centre, an Ethiopian media outlet.

Tadesse Wuhib, who heads CDC in Ethiopia, described the documentary as a breakthrough. "This was more than just a film," he said after the special screening. "These were real lives we were seeing, and there is nothing more powerful than true lives and how the virus is affecting them."


[ENDS]

 

Recent ETHIOPIA Reports

Focus on local manufacture of anti-retroviral drugs,  10/Mar/04
Calls for greater youth involvement in anti-AIDS fight,  4/Mar/04
Botswana and Ethiopia to cooperate in fighting HIV/AIDS,  2/Mar/04
IRIN interview with anti-FGM activist Berhane Ras-Work,  9/Feb/04
First free treatment programme for AIDS patients launched,  29/Jan/04

Links

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
AEGIS
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
International HIV/AIDS Alliance

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

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PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

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  • Inter Press Service (IPS)

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  • Health Systems Trust

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