Bringing men on board the prevention train

Date: June 25, 2012
  • SHARE:

In a world where abstinence, monogamy and condoms use are regularly promoted as HIV/AIDS prevention strategies, it is becoming increasingly necessary to tackle gender-based violence (GBV) and the lack of male voices in prevention campaigns.

The ABC strategy (Abstinence, Be Faithful and Condom Use) of HIV prevention cannot be implemented if women continue to suffer sexual coercion and rape. Condoms can rarely be negotiated during such violent acts.
“We need to keep engaging men to reshape their views about masculinity and sex,À said Tapuwa Manyati, a Knowledge Management Officer with Padare/Enkundleni/ Men’s Forum for Gender. Padare’s advocacy campaigns target males. “To nurture real men, we must address their socialisation and this begins with working with young boys.À
Many patriarchal societies condone acts of male violence as a show of masculine dominance and manhood. They often view frequent casual male sex as common and acceptable, even expected behaviour.
There is therefore a need to reach men in efforts to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS and to involve them as part of the solution rather than merely as part of the problem. Prevention programmes are not usually targeted at men À“ most members of organisations of people living with HIV/AIDS are women.
“Get them (men) where they are found,À said Juliet Mkaronda, a SAfAIDS Satellite Resource Centre Co-ordinator. “Catch them in the workplace where they can have discussions with their peers À“ and even go into the nightclubs.À   Mkaronda also encouraged condom awareness campaigns in nightclubs.
Governments also have a role to play in ensuring that women and girls experience a life free of violence by enacting laws that protect and guarantee women’s and girls’ human rights . When a woman is subjected to sexual coercion, her right to make free decisions regarding her sexual relations is violated.
Far too many African governments fail to protect women’s and girls’ rights in the areas of rape and domestic violence. South Africa’s government, which has recognised marital rape as a crime, remains the exception. However even in South Africa, the 1998 Domestic Violence Act that enshrines this principle, has been poorly implemented due to a failure by government to allocate sufficient resources to police, courts and other support services that may help bring to justice the perpetrators of   violence against women.
Countries such as Zimbabwe are still to enact legislation to protect women and girls from sexual and domestic violence and marital rape. The Domestic Violence Bill is now seven years old but is still to be passed into law, while Swaziland has only recently adopted a new constitution that grants women equal status as men under the law. “We need more women to start participating in politics and to revise the structures and portfolios in parliament,À Manyati said. “We need to realise that we [men] are wrong when we deny women and children their basic human rights.
The rights of people living with HIV also have been neglected in strategies to prevent infection, said an AIDS activist in Zimbabwe, who pointed out that women living with HIV can be re-infected through sexual violence.
“I don’t see the ABC method being much relevant as a prevention strategy for people living with HIV,À said Eunice Kapandura, the Youth Programmes Officer with The Centre, an HIV/AIDS non-governmental organisation. “Prevention is not much spoken about for people living with HIV and AIDS and we are usually seen as people to just give testimonies about our lives.À
Fungai Machirori is a second year media student at the National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe. This article is part of a special series of the GL Opinion and Commentary Service produced ahead of the SADC Heads of State summit in Lesotho from 17-18 August by the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance comprising ten NGOs that promote gender equality in the region.

Comment on Bringing men on board the prevention train

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *