As in other parts of southern Africa, the existence of a patriarchal society in Lesotho furthers gender inequality and normalises gender-based violence. This creates an unsafe environment for women that compromises HIV programming and is in fact, a direct departure from the zero agenda goal of ensuring zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination by 2015. As this brief discusses, a protective legal and social environment is not just a possibility; it is a necessity. Without it, women will continue to be victimised and violated, with correspondingly dire implications for the HIV response. Without it, we risk undoing the gains made against HIV in Lesotho.