Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

AIDS and the lack of respect for women

If you’ve never read a Swazi newspaper before, then you should do yourself a favour and read it on the internet! You can link to it here.
One of the blogs I read regularly comes from Richard Rooney. He is Associate Professor, Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Swaziland and every weekday he comments on the articles written in the country’s newspapers. Sometimes I feel that he is to critical and even cynical, but I still read his posts as it does give a lot of insight in what is going on in the country. Today’s post touched on a topic which he had commented on before. It can be read here.
A female security guard was apparently raped and after reporting on this the newspaper wrote an article in which women are given advice on how to avoid being raped. Apparently the best advice given in the article (which unfortunately I did not read myself) was for women to clothe themselves decently in order to avoid being raped. You can read Rooney’s article yourself to see what he thinks about this advice.
While I personally think that we need to remember that we are living in a sinful world where all possible precautions should be taken to prevent crime against your own body and your possessions, Rooney touches on a very serious matter in his article. Obviously I would advise any female to stay away from dark alleys or from other secluded spots, but then again, why should a woman not be safe in such places? In an ideal situation, a woman should be able to move around anywhere and at any time without having to fear being raped.
And this is where I agree with Rooney: The blame in the article he refers to is placed totally on the shoulders of the rape victims. Men, according to this article, cannot control themselves and therefore women have to take full responsibility to prevent themselves from being raped. And should they fail in doing this, then the men cannot be blamed for what had happened!
In a country which is slowly but surely being devastated through the effects of HIV/AIDS, one of the ways which would have the greatest effect on the outcome of the war against this pandemic, would probably be to show greater respect towards all females. While it is being said in the newspapers that men do not have to take responsibility for their own lives and that women who are raped are themselves to blame, I cannot see how things will ever be able to change in the country.
Of course, it is not only in Swaziland where this is the case. In most parts of the world, including Europe and the USA, one would find a great number of men who have no respect for women. What is perhaps different in Swaziland is that this is being written in the national newspaper.
Rooney ends his article with the following words: The Times is wrong on rape. It has been told time and again that it is wrong, so why does it insist on continuing to give men permission to rape?
It was disappointing for me to read this article and I can only pray that someday a man with stature will stand up to call the men of this country to taking responsibility for their own lives. Before this happens, I cannot see how the AIDS pandemic will be reversed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008 Posted by | Disappointments, HIV & AIDS, Mission, Swaziland, Women | 3 Comments