Multiplicity of discrimination: a case study of deaf women's access to HIV/AIDS counseling services in selected institutions
Nantumbwe, Miriam Sebuliba Faith
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This study investigated the different ways through which discrimination was constructed as deaf women seek to access HIV/AIDS counselling services in Kampala District. Multiplicity of discrimination was investigated through three different ways. First, it was through analyzing the extent to which institutional rules and norms within legislation policies and practices, construct discrimination of deaf women as they seek to access HIV/AIDS counselling services. Secondly it was through examining how society constructs deaf women and demonstrates impacts on their access to HIV/AIDS counselling services. Thirdly, it was through analyzing the extent to which interaction between deaf women and HIV/AIDS counselling service providers could create and reinforce multiple discrimination in access to and control over resources. The study examined the extent to which social structures that provide authoritative guidelines for social behaviour, could construct discrimination, as claimed by the sociological Institutional theory. This argument was applied in order to establish the extent to which institutional rules, norms, and routines could construct discrimination for deaf women. Further, the study examined the extent to which structural relationships create and reproduce systemic differences in the positioning of different groups of people in society as argued in Social Relations Framework. This explanation of the research problem therefore, led the study to apply the major concepts of access to HIV/AIDS counselling services; multiplicity of discrimination in terms of (i) disability (ii) gender (iii) poverty. A cross-sectional study design was used for collection of data. The study was conducted in seven selected institutions. Five (5) of them, namely: National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda (NUDIPU) in Kisaasi, Straight Talk Foundation at Kamwokya, Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre at Naguru,The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) at Mulago and Aids Information Centre (AIC) at Kisenyi were including deaf and those who are not. Two (2), namely Uganda Society for the Deaf (USD) Vocational Training Centre at Namirembe and Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) at Kamwokya were specifically for the deaf. The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods, observation and case studies. The findings of the study were based on a sample population of sixty-seven (67) respondents from seven selected institutions, who included deaf women, service providers including Sign Language Interpreters and women infected with HIV/AIDS. The results of the study revealed that policies, rules, norms and practices used by institutions were discriminatory to deaf women who are perceived to be irrational and less intelligent. In this case, multiple discrimination was revealed through the following power related actions: (i) isolation, (ii) neglect (iii) exclusion and restriction from recognition. It was also established that the position of deaf women was considered homogeneous with that of able-bodied women. Further findings revealed that communication barrier was an immense challenge followed by deaf women being inaccessible, with high illiteracy levels and inadequate financial resources. In addition, inability to use sign language and distrust by individuals within the deaf community were considered as prime hindering factors for deaf women’s access to services. Further more, findings revealed that service providers dictated methods and channels used for delivering information to deaf women. The study recommended that in order to empower deaf women, there was need to create and maintain situations that would change negative stereotypes among institutional personnel, families and communities. Deaf women and PWDs should be provided with appropriate, equal and similar services and information to ensure observation of their rights. In order to overcome communication barrier, the study recommended that deaf women and girls should be provided with SLI or trained in the use of sign language so as to competently communicate with talking communities. Similarly, the study recommended that Institutional personnel/ service providers should be trained in sign language so that they communicate directly with deaf women to ensure confidentiality. Organizations should mainstream programmes targeting deaf women to eliminate discrimination. To avoid economic dependence, deaf women should be trained in employable skills to earn incomes and make sole decisions while utilizing HIV/AIDS Counselling services.