South African Women Note Country’s ‘Frankness’ in Discussing Sexuality, HIV/AIDS
A "sexual revolution" in South Africa is "underway," with more South Africans realizing the need to discuss sex and HIV/AIDS openly, members of the Women's Health Project of South Africa told activists gathered in Boston Thursday. The Boston Globe reports that Ndivhuwo Selinah Masindi, one of the group members, said that religious groups in South Africa "have realized that [counseling] abstinence is not effective." Group member Zanele Hlatshwayo added that South Africans have a "sense of empowerment" that resulted from the end of apartheid, giving many in the country a feeling that "anything is possible, including reducing HIV." However, the resulting "frankness" about sexuality and fighting HIV are "lacking" in the United States, Hlatshwayo said. "I expected the United States to be even more open about issues of sexuality. ... I'm surprised. I find Americans very conservative," she said. Masindi added that Americans "shrink away" from "certain words" associated with sexuality. The members of the women's health project hope to spur women to "have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to sexuality." In their native South Africa, the women are currently focused on trying to "prod" the country's criminal justice system to "deal effectively" with sex crimes (Mishra, Boston Globe, 3/30).
Nigeria Faces 'Dilemma' in Discussing Safe Sex
A conflict over radio advertisements alerting Nigerian youth to the "dangers" of unsafe sex illustrates that Nigeria "still struggles with straight talk about sex," Agence France-Presse reports. In March, a series of radio commercials aimed at informing young people about the consequences of unsafe sex were pulled from the air after a complaint by the state-run Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria. The council objected to the ads' "near-the-knuckle language," stating that the commercials violated a broadcasting code that barred broadcasts "offensive to public feeling ... or disrespectful to human dignity." After talks among the health ministry, government officials and the nongovernmental organization that co-sponsored the campaign, the advertisements are expected to be aired again soon but with some of the language "toned down," ministry officials said. However, Rhythm FM, a Lagos-based radio station, earlier this year began airing its own safe-sex campaign by opening and ending its news broadcasts with a series of warnings about HIV/AIDS. Jacob Akinyemi-Johnson, a spokesperson for the station, said, "We have a responsibility as a radio station for enlightening the community. AIDS is a plague that could wipe out an entire generation of Nigerians." He said that the "difficulties" surrounding the subject of sex in Nigeria could be "overcome." "[P]eople understand what we are saying," he said. However, the country's "cultural ... sensitivities" and "powerful" Islamic and Roman Catholic traditions make the open discussion of sex a "dilemma," Agence France-Presse reports (Cunliffe-Jones, Agence France-Presse, 3/30).