Thanks for the story....The irony in all this is likened to the teaching of
sex-ed in the schools here...parents don't want the school to teach, but
they are also unwilling to teach it themselves...
If the church/youth groups/ etc. want to take charge of anything, they
should at least change strategies if they see it not working (common sense I
believe it is called)...
----Original Message Follows----
From: "Scott Geibel" <scottgeibel@...
To: "Malawi RPCVs" <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: [ujeni] post-news news
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001 09:11:45 +0300
My apologies if someone posted this already... after seeing so many stories
about Zambian leaders caving to the church position on condom promotion,
Swaziland banning miniskirts, etc- it's interesting to see an African leader
talking about looking more closely at relationships, as well as being open
to changing societal norms of how men treat women and girls.
June 20, 2001
A Time for Frankness on AIDS and Africa
By PASCOAL MOCUMBI
MAPUTO, Mozambique ? In the special United Nations session on AIDS next
week, there will be much
discussion about international aid, about drugs and vaccines. But there is
likely to be too little said about
what is the primary means by which AIDS is spread in sub-Saharan Africa:
risky heterosexual sex.
AIDS is not like smallpox or polio. We may not be able to eliminate it
simply with a one-time vaccination or
course of shots for children, since new strains of H.I.V. are constantly
evolving. And unlike the communicable
killer diseases we have encountered most often in the past, H.I.V. is
transmitted through the most intimate and
private human relationships, through sexual violence and commercial sex; it
proliferates because of women's
poverty and inequality.
In Mozambique, the overall rate of H.I.V. infection among girls and young
women ? 15 percent ? is twice
that of boys their age, not because the girls are promiscuous, but because
nearly three out of five are married by
age 18, 40 percent of them to much older, sexually experienced men who may
expose their wives to H.I.V. and
sexually transmitted diseases. Similar patterns are common in other nations
where H.I.V. is rapidly spreading.
Abstinence is not an option for these child brides. Those who try to
negotiate condom use commonly face
violence or rejection. And in heterosexual sex, girls and women are
biologically more vulnerable to infection
than are boys or men.
As a father, I fear for the lives of my own children and their teenage
friends. Though they have secure families,
education, and the information and support they need to avoid risky sex, too
few of their peers do.
As prime minister, I am horrified that we stand to lose most of a
generation, maybe two. The United Nations
estimates that 37 percent of the 16-year-olds in my country will die of AIDS
before they are 30.
As a man, I know men's behavior must change, that we must raise boys
differently, to have any hope of
eradicating H.I.V. and preventing the emergence of another such scourge.
In 1994, at the International Conference on Population and Development, and
again in 1995, 1999 and 2000,
most nations agreed that adolescents have a right to information about their
sexuality. We agreed that programs
should help build adolescent girls' self-confidence and boys' respect for
girls' rights. We agreed to develop both
adolescent- friendly health services and the education and training that
will give young people hope.
Today, in Africa and elsewhere, we are far from achieving these goals. Most
political leaders still view
adolescent sex as a politically volatile subject to be avoided. Community
and religious leaders wrongly believe
that sexuality education promotes promiscuity. Health providers and teachers
are ill-trained about sexuality and
ill at ease with it. Parents know little about sexuality, contraception or
sexually transmitted diseases, and many
believe that early marriage will "protect" their daughters. They may
themselves condone or perpetrate sexual
violence as a legitimate expression of masculinity.
For the long term, we need to develop H.I.V. vaccines and provide treatment
to everyone with H.I.V. We need
to develop protection methods like microbicides that women can use with or
without a partner's knowledge or
cooperation. Above all, we must summon the courage to talk frankly and
constructively about sexuality. We
must recognize the pressures on our children to have sex that is neither
safe nor loving. We must provide them
with information, communications skills and, yes, condoms.
To change fundamentally how girls and boys learn to relate to each other and
how men treat girls and women is
slow, painstaking work. But surely our children's lives are worth the
Pascoal Mocumbi, prime minister of Mozambique and its former minister of
health, is a physician and a
board member of the International Women's Health Coalition.
Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information
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