Protecting the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS
Amina , a mother of seven who lives with HIV in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and Omar , a father of nine, who tested HIV positive, have both recently been supported by the Legal Aid Clinic, based at the University of Hargeisa that is supported by UNDP. The Legal Aid project provides free legal advice and representation to vulnerable people. This includes supporting the rights of those most marginalized in our society, such as People Living with HIV & AIDS who all too often face terrible stigma and discrimination from their own families, relatives and surrounding community.
Amina’s husband left her and stopped supporting her and their seven children, after he learnt about her HIV status. The family suffered terrible deprivation as a result and faced severe psychological and social problems. Amina tells us how she struggled through every day of life until being introduced to Talowadag, an NGO that supports People Living with HIV & AIDS in Hargeisa (supported by UNDP).
Talowadag was set up in 2006 and currently has over 300 clients, women, children and men who are all living with HIV in different parts of Somaliland. In Amina’s case, Talawadag contacted the Legal Aid Clinic, and helped Amina file a case in court against her husband. As a result, the court ruled that the husband should pay a maintenance fee of 120 dollars per month to his wife to cover the expenses of the family.
Omar’s wife and children evicted him from their property when they found out his HIV status. Talowadag followed up and arranged an informal mediation meeting with his eldest children, which included providing them with basic facts on HIV & AIDS and including them in legal counseling support groups, and as a result the children are now caregivers to their father.
The Legal Aid Clinic is part of UNDP Somalia’s Access to Justice project. It is also involved in providing training to People Living with HIV & AIDS on their rights, ensuring that gender issues are addressed and provides free legal representation to vulnerable people.