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Publication Details

Reference
Meth, Oliver (2008) AIDS, youth, women and civil society. Eye on Civil Society : -.

Summary
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) - perhaps our most accomplished civil society organisation when it comes to advocacy and conscientisation - made great advances in recent days on several fronts, but more challenges remain.

First, in the Cape Town High Court last week, TAC defeated the charlatan Matthias Rath, and behind him health minister Manto Tshabalal-Msimang. Rath's vitamin sales pitch did great damage by persuading low-income HIV+ people to drop anti-retroviral medicines to take up expensive but not very useful vitamin treatment. The courts have told him: voetsek!

Second, TAC and its lawyers continue their crucial efforts at improved access to AIDS medicines, by recently chastising the national government for not providing compulsory licenses against multinational pharmaceutical companies - licenses that could generate local production and lower prices drastically. Locally, big business has been too slow to take up provision of AIDS medicines.

Third, TAC have also shown other refugee support organisations how to link issues - healthcare, water, housing, electricity, nutrition, transport and political rights - when they came to the aid of Caledon Square immigrants and others victimised by xenophobia. Working with refugees, TAC demanded closure of the camps (as a "serious health risk") and more resources for reintegration, repatriation and resettlement.

Still, the HIV/AIDS crisis continues to spread far and wide, and amongst groups especially affected, two require even more support: women and youth.

Around 5,3 million people live with HIV in South Africa. Just over 10 percent of all young people are infected, according to a recent study. Of the five million people all over the world who were infected during 2001, 58 percent were below the age of 25.

On the African continent, HIV/AIDS hit young people specifically hard. A large proportion of Africa’s population is very young and most of them live in deep poverty - with few possibilities to acquire quality education, jobs with a living wage, and proper health care - including their possibilities to gain knowledge about HIV/AIDS and thereby their power to protect themselves.

Women of all ages are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS than men. It is the social circumstances in patriarchal societies - that is, societies where men have more economic, social and political power than women - that is the main force behind the higher number of infected women.

Women hold just 36 percent of formal jobs. Despite South Africa's very high unemployment rate and despite the very low wages and insecure working conditions of many jobs, men in general have more financial stability than women. When women do work in the formal sector, they often have the lowest paid and most insecure jobs.

This situation directly impacts on women’s ability to protect themselves from getting HIV. Women who are economically dependent on men are less able to make demands in their sexual relationships. In order to keep a partner - and thereby a source of income for themselves and perhaps their children - many women find it difficult to ask for the use of condoms, or demand monogamy (to have only one sexual partner).

Women who have no source of income and turn to prostitution are particularly vulnerable. Economic dependency, sexism, and gender-based oppression have become a deadly combination for the women of South Africa.

The very high levels of gender-based violence against women - which includes sexual abuse, rape and domestic abuse - is another reason why more women than men acquire HIV.

When it comes to teenage girls and young women, the picture is bleak. One recent survey recorded that of all HIV-infected young people (between 15 and 24 years), 77 percent were female! This difference between young men’s and women’s infection rates is high.

Sexist attitudes and violence amongst young people directed at young women are most certainly very important reasons.

Women and girls are generally seen as subordinate people, who simply have to obey any sexual demands their male partners might have. Rape is blamed by some men on the clothes women wear. Tragically, a majority of young people do not think that forced sex within a relationship is rape, and they generally think that once girls get into a relationship, they have to agree to whatever their boyfriends want them to do sexually.

Yet there is hope, mainly in civil society. When young people get involved in organisations like TAC, they show they take the issue of HIV/AIDS seriously and that they understand it is important to stop the spread of the virus. When they organise in the Anti-Privatisation Forum and the Anti-Eviction Campaign, they show they understand that poverty must be defeated in order to build their present and their future.

In whatever struggles youth take part in South Africa, the link between women’s oppression, the future of young people, poverty and HIV/AIDS must always be there.

Only when the full picture of all factors that feed the HIV/AIDS is clear and they are all included in the struggle for a better tomorrow can the swelling tide of death through disease be reversed.

Oliver Meth is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society.





INGCULAZA, ABASHA, ABESIFAZANE KANYE NOMPHAKATHI
NguOliver Meth
Yahunyushwa nguFaith ka-Manzi

ITreatment Action Campaign okungenye yezinhlangano zomphakathi uma kuza ekukhulumeleni nasekwaziseni abantu – seyiphumelele ezimpini eziningi ebikhekene nazo kodwa kusekude phambili.

Kungekudala-nje eNkantolo eNkulu yaseKapa, Itac ihlule uMatthias Rath, obesekwe nguNgqongqoshe kazwelonke weZempilo uDokotela Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. URath udale ubungozi obukhulu ngenkathi edayis amaphilisi ache ngenkathi encenga laba abahola amaholo aphansi ukuthenga amaphilisi akhe abizayo kodwa angenamsebenzi walutho futhi bayeke ukusebenzisa ama-ARVs. INkantolo imtshele ukuthi akahambe!

Okwesibili iTAC iyaqhubeka ikanye namameli bayo ukulwela ukuthi abantu bathole amaphili angconywana engclulaza ngokuthi balwe nohulumeni kazwelonke ngokunganikezi abakhiqiki basekhaya izimvume ukuze kube yibo abenza lemithi ngamanani aphansi. Kanti futhi nazo izinkampani zasekhaya zenza kancane ukusebenzisa ithuba lokuba kube yizo ezikhiqiza imithi yeHIV.

Okwesithathu, iTAC ifike yafundisa abahlali balelizwe abaqhamuka ngaphandle ukuthi bazihlanganisa kanjani izidingongqangi ezingezempilo, amanzi, ezezindlu, umbani, ukudla okunomsoco, ezokuthutha kanye nemalungelo ezombusazwe – ngenkathi beyosiza zizhambi zaseAfrika ezazithinteke edlameni lokuhlaselwa nokucwaswa. ITAC ngenkathi isebenza nalabantu yabiza ukuvalwa kwamakhempu (ababekubona njengengozi ezimpilweni zabantu) kanye nokuba siza ngezidingo zokubuyela emiphakathini abekade behlala kuyona kanye nokunxeshezelwa.

Kodwa, igciwane leHIV lisaqhubeka , ikakhulukazi kulabo asebenalo, futhi labo abadinga kakhulu ukuxhaswa njengabantu abasha kanye nabesifazane.

Bacishe bafike ezigidini eziyisthupha abantu abaphila negciwane leHIV eNingizimu Afrika. Cishe ngaphezudlana kwamaphesenti ayishumi ababphila nalo ngabantu abasha ngokocwaningo olusnda kwenziwa. Kubantu abayiyigidi eziyisihlanu abathelelewa yileligciwane ngonyaka ka2000, ingxenye yabo kwakungabantu abangaphansi kweminyaka engamashumi amabili nesihlanu.

Ezwenikazi laseAfrika abantu abasha abathinteka kakhulu kuleligciwane. Iningi labantu abahlala eAfrika, ulusha futhi bahlala ngokuswela okukhulu – lapho kubonakala sengathi amathuba okuthola imfundo ephambili kufiphele, imisebenzi eholela kahle, kahle nokulapheka okuhamba phambili – kanye nokuthola ulwazi ngegciwane leHIV okungabenza babenamandla okuzivikela.

Abesifazane bayo yonke iminyaka ibona impela abasethubeni lokuthelelwa ngengciwane kunabantu besilisa. Lokhu kudalwa ukuthi bahlala emiphakathini ebuswa ngamadoda – imiphakathi lapho amadoda ebusa ngokwenhlalakahle, ngokwezomnotho kanye nezombusazwe kunabesifazane – lokhu yikho okwenza kube nezinga eliphezulu lokutheleleka kwabesifazane.

Bancane abesifazane abasebenza imisebenzi ebhalisiwe. Noma kunezinga eliphezulu lokungabikhona kwemisebenzi kanye namaholo aphansi kakhulu nokungaqiniseki emsebenzini, abantu besilisa ibona abahlale benemali. Uma abantu besifazane besebenza lapho bebhalisiwe khona, bahola kancane futhi benze imisebenzi engensiqiniseko.

Lesisimo senza kubenzima ukuthi abantu besifazane bakwazi ukuzivikela ekuthelelweni ngeHIV. Abantu besifazane abathembele kwabesilisa ngokomnotho abakwazi ukulwela kahle amalungelo abo kwezocansi. Ukuze bangabaleki abesilisa – ukuze bahlale bethola imali yokuphilisa bona nezingane zabo – abesifazane abaningi bakuthola kunzima ukucela abesilisa babo ukuthi basebenzise amakhondomu, noma batshele ukuthi bathembeke.

Abantu besifazane abangasebenzi abajikela ekudayiseni imizimba yabo nabo basenkingeni. Ukuthembela komunye umuntu ngemali kanye nokubandlululwa ngobulili ikona futhi okuyingozi enkulu kubantu besifazane baseNingizimu Afrika.

Izinga elikhulu lokuhlukunyezwa kwabesifazane – njengokuhlukunyezwa ngocansi, ukudlwengulwa kanye nesibhaxu ekhaya – ikona kanye owkenya babe baningi abantu besifazane abatheleleka ngegciwane leHIV.

Uma sesiza kwabesifazane abasebancane, kubukeka ikusasa lifiphele. Ocwaningweni oludanda kwenziwa kutholakale ukuthi isibalo esikhulu sabantu abasha abanegciwane leHIV abaphakathi kweminyaka eyishumi nanhlanu kanye namashumi amabili nane, abesifazane ibona abatheleleka ngokwedlulele.

Ukucwaswa ngokobulili kanye nodlame kubantu abasha lubhekiswa kwabesifazane abasha ngezinye izizathu ezibalulekile.

Abesifazane namantombazane isikhathi esiningi babonakala njengabantu abangakwazi ukuzivikela. Okuvele kube lula kubona ukuhlonipha nokuvumela izicelo zendluzula zocansi eziqhamuka kwabesilisa babo.Abanye besilisa bathi indlela abntu besifazane abagqoka ngayo iyona eyenza badlwengulwe. Ngeshwa abantu abaningi abasha abacabangi ukuthi ucansi lwempoqo kubantu abathandanayo kusho ukudlwengulwa, futhi bacabanga ukuthi uma intombazane isimqomile owesilisa, kufanele bavumele noma yini yocansi efunwa ngabesilisa babo.

Kodwa-ke likhona ithemba, ikakhulukazi ezinhlanganweni zemiphakathi. Uma abasha nezimbandakanyisa nezihlangano ezifana neTAC, bakhombisa ukuthi bakhathazekile ngesifo sengculaza futhi bayakubona ukubaluleka kokuthi bayeka ukuthelelana ngalesisifo. Uma bezihlanganisa nezinhlangano ezifana noAnti-Privitisation Forum kanye neAnti Eviction Campaign bakhombisa ukuthi bayaqonda ukuthi ukuhlupheka kufanele kunqotshwe ekubhekeleleni inamhlanje nokuzakhela ikusasa labo.

Kunoma iyiphi imizabalazo abantu abasha abayixhasayo eNingizimu Afrika, kufanele njalo bahlale bekubon ukubaluleka kokuhlanganyela kanye nokulwa nokucindezelwa kwabantu besifazane, ikusasa labo njengabantu abasha, ubuphofu kanye negciwane lengculaza.

Uma bengaqaphela kakhulu ukugwema izimo ezandisa igciwane lengculaza, kulapho-ke bengaqala ukuzimbandakanya nomzabalazo wekusasa eliqhakazile futhi bese kuyabaleka nalokukufa.

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