Rights – Evidence – ACTion (REAct)

People pointing at a world map © Gemma Taylor for Frontline AIDS

Rights – Evidence – ACTion (REAct) is a tool to record human rights violations that happen when accessing HIV and health services.

We’re seeing increasing stigma, discrimination and criminalisation of people living with HIV and other marginalised populations in many places. In response, we developed REAct, a human rights monitoring and response system that records and manages information about violations.

Read the REAct user guide

What is REAct?

Rights – Evidence – ACTion (REAct) has been built with communities in mind, so that community-based organisations (CBOs) can monitor human rights issues and respond to them.

Organisations can use REAct to record data about human rights violations; provide and refer people to health, legal and other public services; and use this data to inform human rights-based HIV programming, policy and advocacy at national, regional and global levels.

Go to our REAct User Guide page to learn more about REAct and find key resources.

Why we do it

REAct is a powerful tool for gathering the evidence needed to advocate for change. It is important because each documented case adds to a growing body of evidence, shining a light on hate crimes that often go unheard.

REAct is different from other human rights monitoring systems that collect data on human rights violations. It provides or makes referrals to support, such as individual crisis responses and human rights-based HIV programmes.

hOW WE Do it

Trained staff (known as REActors) in community-based organisations record cases of human rights violations in order to:

  • Improve the local response to individual emergencies
  • Influence change in communities and services that perpetuate rights abuses
  • Inform human rights based HIV programming, policy and advocacy
  • Identify community needs relating to human rights and HIV programming
  • Support civil society source funding to continue this work

Is REAct only for HIV programmes?

The guide can be adapted to HIV-related health services too. These include TB, hepatitis C, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, harm reduction interventions for people who use drugs, and others.

Where we do it

CBOs in over 22 countries across the world have used REAct, with growing interest from many others. These 22 countries are: Bangladesh, Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Eswatini, Tunisia, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Trained REActors in these countries gather information from their clients on the specific issues they face – from police abuse to inequitable health care, from gender-based violence to denial of property rights, and from prejudiced media coverage to discriminatory employment practices. REActors are usually members of the community who also work as peer educators and outreach workers.


Our impact

Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

  • Civil society partners in Lebanon and Tunisia have documented 240 human rights cases and responded by providing legal and psychosocial support, food and shelter, and access to HIV and other health services.
  • One organisation supported eight LGBTI people to access surgery or other medical treatment after they were beaten by police officers.
  • Another supported a young gay man who was kidnapped and tortured by militia. He sought asylum in Tunisia, where the organisation provided him with psychological care, housing assistance and social support.
  • Tunisian parliament went on to pass the Organic Law on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Tunisia. The evidence from the cases documented under REAct, which organisations used to advocate for the law, contributed to it being passed.

Southern Africa

  • From the period December 2016 to September 2018, a total of 357 cases were collected by REActors across 8 countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) with a total of 478 affected individuals.
  • The most commonly experienced human rights violations recorded by REActors include: violent assault or abuse (27%), sexual assault (17%), harassment and intimidation (12.5%), and denial of health access (7.81% ). 142 responses were provided, including legal (25%) and medical (38%) assistance, counselling (17%), shelter (17%) and assistance in reporting to police (4%).

I, myself, am an activist who has faced persecution. I can show groups from across Africa that, through REAct, we have a system and it works. The more countries that use REAct, the more we can combine our evidence and the more we can combine our response.Research and Documentation Manager, SMUG

Case studies

  • Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) were early pioneers of REAct, having been one of the first organisations to take part in the development as well as the implementation of REAct. SMUG produced an advocacy report from the testimonies collected through REAct called ‘And that’s how I survived being killed”.
  • Positive Vibes have implemented REAct in several countries in Southern Africa through their KP Reach Programme. They publish REAct newsletters on an annual basis.
  • PITCH produced a case study based on the implementation of REAct, called ‘REActing to Reality’.
  • Alliance India implement REAct within their Wajood project, which aims to reach transgender and hijra people to increase access to sexual health, gender-based violence mitigation and increase social wellbeing.
  • A number of REAct cases have been collected together for Silent Stories, a publication by MENA Rosa that is being shared with decision makers throughout the region.

want to find out more?

If you are interested in learning more about REAct, please read the user guide

REAct was developed by Frontline AIDS and draws on the experiences of programmers and partner organisations globally. This work has been possible with financial support from GIZ BACKUP Health.

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