Marriage, violence and HIV: the shifting policy context in Uganda

Margaret S. Winchester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The policy environment for vulnerable women in Uganda is rapidly changing, with the aim of introducing more punitive measures for violent offenders and more options for women seeking help. This paper examines HIV-positive women who experienced intimate partner violence in two regions of Uganda prior to the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act of 2010. Based on in-depth interviews and observations, it reports on women’s views of marriage and relationships, and their strategies for help seeking to show the interaction between the two phenomena within the local cultural and political context. HIV-positive women in Uganda reshape their notions of marriage and love based on experiences of violence, illness management and broader social factors. Their narratives of relationships and conflict reveal an ambivalence toward formal marriage because of both its security and rights and its potential to inhibit leaving, as well as a reluctance to seek help through formal means. This construction of marriage is intertwined with the shifting social backdrop in Uganda, in particular the increasing rollout of antiretroviral treatment for HIV and the development of new policies surrounding violence, marriage and divorce. Women’s experiences show potential points of intervention and the need for multi-sectoral responses to violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1333-1346
Number of pages14
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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