Brand HIV+ People-Timothy-Times of Swaziland

Date: October 2, 2009
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This article may be used to:
– Provide an example of gender sensitive language used by people thought to be prominent.
– Illustrate male stereotyping in the media.

Trainer’s notes:
legislators and the HIV/AIDS epidemic

Parliamentarian Timothy Myeni drew widespread criticism after telling all parliamentarians in a workshop that the move of branding would enable people to check partners for a warning stamp before sex. Myeni further went to an extent of suggesting that making HIV tests compulsory and forcing those who were infected to be permanently marked with a warning logo was the only solution to the pandemic. I for one would say, in Swaziland a country highly affected by the disease, legislators who think like him are not needed because some of the people who voted for him could be positive, but all of a sudden he is discriminating against them? All what Myeni needs to do is to stop lobbying his colleagues for such but instead call for them to stop discriminating HIV+ people and give them support.

This article is an example of a gender aware report, because the case study ‘Brand HIV+ People – Timothy’ portrays male “Legislators, Chritians” as individuals who are unable to control their language. Fine some HIV+ people may want to spread the disease to innocent people purposely but let them be given the right to voice their status. It is important to note that the story depicts a vulnerable group HIV+, in a negative light.

Training exercises:
Exercise one: Underline the language within the story which is sensational. Discuss the following:
– How the language is used degrading and dehumanizing to the subjects of the story?
– Do you think the language paints a realistic picture of the situation? Explain answer.
– What is dignity and fair play sacrificed for by the language used?
Exercise two: Read the case study, ‘BRAND HIV+ PEOPLE -TIMOTHY and Discuss the following:
– What message is conveyed by the headline?
– Is the use of this language in the story ethical? Explain your answer.
– Does the headline convey the story or a stereotype?
– How are men “legislators, Christians” portrayed in the story?
– What gender stereotypes are reinforced?
– In addition to language, what else is reflected in this story?
– Is there news value in this story? Explain your answer.

Other training resources:
For the exercise to be well I think a handbook on language sensation will help people to know what to say at the right time.


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