NGOs and HIV prevention in Pakistan


16:00 - 17:00

In this week's CRESIDA webinar series, Ayaz Qureshi from the University of Edinburgh will be giving a talk on 'NGOs and valuing stigma in Pakistan’s HIV prevention'. 


This paper is set in the context of Pakistan’s response to HIV/AIDS epidemic. It focuses on the role of NGOs in stigmatisation of ‘groups’ that are thought to be at a higher risk of HIV. Sex-out-side marriage and non-therapeutic use of drugs are criminal offenses in Pakistan, punishable with upto life imprisonment and death penalty. NGOs often portray sex workers and people-who-use-drugs as quasi-legal persons who are locked in a policeman-criminal relationship with the Pakistani state, and who therefore, need NGOs to mediate this relationship. By advancing such portrayals, I argue that the NGOs in HIV prevention capitalise upon the presumed difference between HIV ‘risk groups’ and the general population. And, since the role of cultural brokers works for their own accumulation, for this brokerage to work, they emphasize this presumed ‘cultural difference’ (Elyachar 2010) which then leads to further stigmatising and ‘othering’ of the so-called ‘risk groups’. However, the portrayals of self-incriminating drug users and sex workers advanced by these NGOs do not take into account a fuller range of identity politics and dynamics of stigma in this donor-dominated unstable landscape of HIV prevention.

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