Using a feasibility study as an advocacy tool towards repealing an antiquated law that perpetuates HIV: A case of the Deceased Brother’s Widow’s Marriage Act (DBWMA) in Zambia Authors: Michael Mulimansenga Chanda, Justine Chitengi, Groy Shauma, Timothy Banda, Muka Chikuba-McLeod, Abraham Miti, Joyce Macmillan, Christabel Samanga and Gilbert Mwanza Support to the HIV/AIDS Response in Zambia II Presentation date: 22 July, 2014
Presentation Outline • Methods • Results • Conclusions • Next Steps • Introduction and Background • Problem Statement • Research Questions • Aim and Objectives
Introduction to Zambia • Sub-Saharan African country • 752,612 m2 • 13.4 million people (CSO, 2010) • 72 ethnic tribes in 288 chiefdoms • 60% people live on <$1/day • HIV prevalence: 14.3% (15 – 49 years:16.1% females and 12.3% males) (ZDHS, 2007)
Support the HIV/AIDS Response in Zambia Project (SHARe II) The purpose of the USAID-funded SHARe II project is to support and strengthen the multi-sector response to HIV/AIDS and contribute to the achievement of the USAID/Zambia Mission Strategic Objective 9 (SO9): Reduced impact of HIV/AIDS through Multi-Sector Response. • Objective 1: Strengthen and expand leadership involvement in HIV/AIDS and improve the policy and regulatory environment
Deceased Brother’s Widow’s Marriage Act: Cap 57 of the Laws of Zambia “No marriage heretofore or hereafter contracted between a man and his deceased brother's widow within Zambia or without, shall be deemed to have been or shall be void or voidable, as a civil contract, by reason only of such affinity”
Problem Statement • DBWMA legalizes “widow inheritance,” by allowing men to marry their deceased brother’s widows • Widow inheritance has negative impact on national HIV responses • Increases HIV risk and vulnerability for the widow, the surviving brother (the inheritor), and the inheritor’s wife • Can impoverish the widow and her children and—in the long term—increase HIV vulnerability for children • Hinder ongoing traditional leaders’ efforts to outlaw widow inheritance as one of the preventive measures against HIV infection • Perpetuates gender inequity and inequality
Research Questions • What is the extent of knowledge, among selected participants in Zambia, about the DBWMA? • What is the relevance of the DBWMA to contemporary Zambian communities given their socio-economic evolution? • In the era of HIV/AIDS, does the practice protected by the DBWMA pose risks? - what are the risks? • What can Zambian society do to address the issue of weaknesses/risks institutionalized by DBWMA?
Study Aim and Objectives • Aim: Collect views from wide range of participants about merits and demerits of DBWMA in order to determine feasibility to either repeal or maintain Act • Key Objectives: • Highlight provisions of the DBWMA • Collect views about potential benefits and disadvantages of the DBWMA • Collect views and opinions from respondents either for or against repeal of the DBWMA
Methods Worked with Zambia Law Development Commission Over 3000 participants in 28 Chiefdoms - 26 districts in 8 provinces (Dec - 2013 June 2014) • Selection criteria included HIV prevalence, cultural and traditional practices, perceived influence on law reform pertinent to succession • 28 Chiefs,100 village headpersons, 20 judges and magistrates, 50 civil society and faith-based organization leaders, 30 government officials and over 3000 community members Used KIIs, FGDs and community discussions, guided by semi-structured questionnaires
Small group of villagers discussing Focus Group Discussion Community discussion
Results • 80% respondents initially not aware of the DBWMA and its provisions • Intention of the DBWMA viewed as good by some at the time but not anymore • Inheritance perceived as potentially aiding new HIV infections • DBWMA a codified law, prevents customary law reform on wife inheritance
Results • Widows, particularly in rural communities, still being coerced into marriages • Most are economically dependent and see no other option • Inherited widows reported that lack of economic and social power translated into disempowerment during their subsequent marriages • Some have resources from their deceased husbands that the ‘inheritor’ and others wish to control • Being inherited is degrading, humiliating, reduces social standing and dignity for women as human beings and promotes gender inequity and inequality
Results • Over 93% of KII participants in favour of repeal • Out of 3000 participants recruited in 28 Chiefdoms in 26 districts and in 8 provinces: 85% supported the repeal of DBWMA
Conclusions • With a little legal and policy awareness people can identify impediments with the law e.g. DBWMA • DBWMA is an no longer the protective law it was initially intended to be - it is oppressive against inherited women, gender insensitive, dehumanizing and promotes gender inequity and inequality all of which are catalysts of HIV infection • Most respondents support repeal which would facilitate a supportive reform in HIV/AIDS policy and legal environment in Zambia
Next Steps Working collaboratively with the Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC): • Gather more data to provide conclusive evidence for repeal across the country • Advocacy activities over the next few months to build broader stakeholder support for repeal
Disclaimer This presentation has been supported by the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and was made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of the SHARe II Task Order GHH-1-02-07-00059-00. The contents are the responsibility of SHARe II and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.