Anti-discrimination efforts in Nigeria
Not long after Kenyan AIDS advocates celebrated a legal victory against employment discrimination, Nigeria’s “National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has advocated a quick passage into law of the bill on Discrimination Against Persons Living with HIV to ensure that such persons were saved from the wrath of employers, relatives and other members of the society.”
According to this article from Nigerian paper This Day, Professor Bbatunde Osotimehin, NACA’s Director General, “said despite sustained and massive public enlightenment on the need for society to show love to people living ith the HIV virus, relatives of people living with the virus, employers of labour, landlords and other members of the society were still taking actions to the contrary.”
Read on for comments from the article, which provide a lot of insight on the situation:
“The passage of the law will help the anti-HIV/AIDS fight in many ways. What we have presently is just moral persuasion to get people to do what is right and also educate people about the rights of individuals who are HIV positive. But if we have a law that backs it, it means that those who do not do what is right can actually be challenged in court,” Osotimehin said. […]
National Co-ordinator of the Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPHWAN), Mr. John Ibekwe expressed dismay at the hardship he and his colleagues are subjected to both at home and the workplace. Ibekwe who spoke at the Second National Council of AIDS meeting, explained that at present, some employers still discriminate against people living with the virus by terminating their appointment prematurely or denying fresh applicants employment after they had been made to disclose their HIV status.
Ibekwe lamented that discrimination against people living with the virus has gone beyond the workplace to the family setting as widows who lost their husbands to AIDS related cases are accused of being responsible for such deaths.
“When somebody gets tested positive to HIV, many things happen to him. He could be forcefully ejected from his house, sacked from his office, his children withdrawn from school and other challenges arise which he is expected to confront with the burden of making sure that they live above the virus. Whenever we have meetings, our female members relate what they go through in the hands of the relatives of their late husbands. Most times they are accused of killing their own husbands. We are still discriminated against in many places and the passage of the law will go a long way to help protect people living with the virus against these social discriminations.
The passage of the bill by the National Assembly will help translate discrimination into offence and goes on to criminalize it,” he said.