Rural women neglected in fight against HIV/AIDS, Sunday Mirror

Date: January 1, 1970
  • SHARE:

This story is about the information gap among women and girls in rural communities on HIV/AIDS.

This article can be used to:
1. Raise issues around rural women’s voices.
2. Demonstrate how voices of marginalised communties can be even further marginalised in well-meaning articles.
Trainer’s notes: This story is told only through the voice of a woman civil society activist. The story is about rural women’s lack of information about HIV/AIDS, and it suggests that women in rural communities have been interviewed, but their voices and perspectives are totally absent from the story.The female civil society activist speaks on behalf of the women, and by omitting their voices, the story makes rural women invisible and sends the message that their voices and perspectives are not newsworthy. The story includes no data on the HIV/AIDS prevalence among women in Zimbabwe, nor does it provide data and information on the gender inequalities that exist in the society. There also are two undeveloped angles in this short story – one is rural women’s lack of information about HIV/AIDS and the link to their HIV vulnerability; and, the other angle is the unequal gender power relations which make it difficult for women to negotiate safer sex making them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Women are referred to as ‘hapless victims’, while men are labeled as ‘promiscuous’. These terms are used by the reporter/editor, because neither is in quotes within the story. Both of these terms perpetuate the gender stereotypes of all women as ‘victims’, and that all men are ‘promiscuous’ and spreading HIV.
Statements by the activist such as the majority of women at the growth point where she was addressing a gathering, had been forced to have sex without their consent, and raped and sexually abused by their husbands, is not substantiated by further information or sources. The language and unsubstantiated statements lend a sensational tone to the story and the critical link between gender violence (rape and sexual abuse) and HIV/AIDS is lost in the story.
Discussion Questions:
1. How important is the persepctive of the rural women to this story ?
2. What are the particular gender and HIV/ AIDS issues related to rural women?
Training exercises:
1. Hand out the article to students/participants. Divide them into two groups. Assign to one group the angle of rural women’s lack of information about HIV/AIDS, and to the other group, the angle of women’s inability to negotiate safer sex. Ask each group to develop an outline on how they would develop feature stories on the issue. The outline should include:
– Angle of the story
– List of Sources
– Appropriate data
– Background information required to add context to the story
– Key issues or questions to be dealt with in the story that relate to the angle  
2. Visit a rural women’s project or organisation. Survey the women and write a series of feature/ commentary articles or contact a workshop in which they can tell their own stories, ensuring and opportunity for their voices ot be heard.

Links to other training resources: Gender and HIV/AIDS, A Training Manual for Southern African Media and Communicators, published by Gender Links and AIDS Law Project 2004, chapter 6 , chapter 7 , chapter 10

Download : ZIMCS6

Comment on Rural women neglected in fight against HIV/AIDS, Sunday Mirror

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