HIV and AIDS, race and discrimination
ENMUNEH activities are aimed at supporting the Afro-descendant Garifuna community to participate in community development. It promotes respect and solidarity, and works to defend the human rights of women by supporting black women in legal processes. It also promotes the rights of young women through awareness raising and training with adolescents. ENMUNEH offers practical support to Garifuna women through micro businesses and income-generating projects.
ENMUNEH supports Afro-descendant women who are HIV positive, as Honduras has one of the highest incidences of HIV and AIDS in Latin America. In the past three years the organisation has focused its activities on promoting sexual and reproductive health in the framework of human rights, violence and women’s empowerment, and has identified a number of priorities. It provides holistic support and medication for people living with HIV; trains health personnel to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV; and organises HIV-positive Garifuna women and supports them to live positively with the virus and to make demands on the State. It also runs campaigns to promote environmental health. Its view is that good health is not only personal: it also affects relations between people and with the environment, and includes prevention of HIV and violence.
Work on Violence Against Women (VAW)
ENMUNEH has worked on the issue of VAW since 2000. It promotes women’s rights and equality between women and men, and supports women’s autonomy and participation in civil society. It acts to reduce the number of cases of human rights violation, with a special emphasis on supporting cases of discrimination, domestic and family violence. It runs programmes with the community and activities relating specifically to violence.
ENMUNEH trains women leaders; creates human rights committees with women in the community; and runs a range of awareness-raising and education projects on sexual and reproductive health, identity, gender, race, citizenship and human rights.
It set up a Committee to monitor human rights in four Garifuna communities on the Atlantic Coast of Honduras. Members of the Committee took part in a series of training workshops aimed at bringing them up to date on legislation and providing them with tools to denounce violations and so generating capacity to carry out advocacy on preventing human rights violations.
ENMUNEH has a Family Council office where a lawyer gives legal advice on domestic violence and child abuse cases. They have set up self-help groups for HIV positive women who are survivors of violence to work on issues relating to health and reproductive rights. They also trains health promoters to work with adolescents on sexual and reproductive health awareness.
ENMUNEH regularly runs adverts on local radio stations on domestic violence and human rights. This includes providing information and answering queries about how to obtain support. It has information kiosks in the communities that distribute information on preventing violence and on domestic violence and human rights. It has set up Community Watch groups that train men and women about their rights.
The consider networking to be very important to promote the issues that concern the organisation. ENMUNEH participates in the Network of Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women. It has links with women’s organisations such as the Collective of Women Against Violence; with local authorities; the Human Rights Commission and the Ministries of Health and Education.
Lessons, obstacles, challenges
As a result of its activities ENMUNEH has seen a strengthening of skills and knowledge on human rights that have led to the identification of discrimination and violation of rights, and to increased support for those cases. Advocacy with local institutions to demand the protection of human rights have increased. Previously fear and apathy prevented people in the community from standing up for their rights; now members of the Committee look for legal support and report cases of violations of rights to the authorities.
ENMUNEH’s programmes on human rights and responsibilities have increased women’s knowledge and the empowerment of women in the Garifuna community. Work has been sustained even after funding for the project ended, since members of the committee continue to defend and advise women in the community and train other women’s organisations.
As a result of the advice and prevention services offered in two clinics, there has been an increased participation of men in ENMUNEH’s sexual and reproductive health activities.
A number of stories exemplify the impact of ENMUNEH’s legal advice work, such as the case of a young woman in the community of Triunfo de la Cruz who was killed as a result of domestic violence in 2004. The Committee of Human Rights intervened to ensure that the perpetrator was arrested and sentenced. Another case involved a woman who had suffered domestic violence for 20 years. Legal support enabled her to get the court to ban her ex-husband from the home.
The biggest challenge ENMUNEH faces is the lack of funding to carry out human rights projects.
Information Leaflet: Luchamos para prevenir VIH/SIDA
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