HIV/AIDS is a pandemic that is wiping the youth in the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa today has 60% of the world’s HIV cases, despite having only 10% of the world’s population.
Of these, almost 60% are women and girls.
This is not yet another feminist article or yet another condom story from me but just a hitting nail on the head situation.
As society keeps changing, the contradiction between women’s family responsibility and participation in society deepens.
Many women choose to have late marriage, late reproduction and even no reproduction due to stress at home or at the workplace. There is a low degree of awareness and popularity of family friendly measures in companies or organizations.
The Rwandan culture is one that has left a lot to be admired. Certainly most of the cultures in eastern Africa have or should learn a lot from the Rwandan one. There are several of these but let us focus on respect, dignity, humility and pretence.
Yes you read right, pretence.Culture is created by people and people can change culture. Communities have to look at their cultural values and practices to determine whether these impede or promote the respect of human rights.
Women are totally respected in Rwanda.
The marriage institution is also highly recognized unlike in Kenya whereby couples prefer cohabiting than marriage just in the name of avoiding commitment.
Rwandans give respect to the practice of bride wealth.
The new gender laws are pro- women, wife battering is a very serious offence which in any case it’s normally unheard of here.
Life is smooth for women in Rwanda so to speak.
With all this respect given to them a lot is also required from them.
For example there is a certain way a woman is supposed to behave, carry herself and basically prove that she deserves to be treated in the dignity that she deserves.
It has come to many foreigners observations that this leads to some kind of pretence in them. I know this will attract a lot of harsh feed back but it has to be said in one way or another.
This whole respect issue has been misinterpreted in that for the many times I have tried engaging my lady peers in sex, HIV/AIDS or condom topics they would rather not discuss such topics especially in public.
They have this fake image they have to portray.
With all due respect, who are you fooling? Who doesn’t know that the youth are sexually active?
It’s in Rwanda’s culture that a lady should never sleep outside her parent’s house before marriage. So we forget that the culture doesn’t forbid them to wake their boyfriends up at dawn before going to work.
We have forgotten that the more we don’t open up and discuss about these things, the more we pretend that we are innocent thus we can’t walk into a store and ask for condoms, the more we risk contracting HIV/AIDS.
Condoms are powerful weapons in curbing the spread of HIV, and in countries where women don’t have the power to negotiate their use, it becomes much harder to stop the disease from spreading.
May be its because of where I come from, or my culture that allows women to be a little bit loud but…
It gets so tiring sometime when you notice the whole ignorance and silence in people just trying to pull a whole Virgin Mary look yet we all know the underlying problem.
Let me avoid removing the speck in my brother’s eye before working on the log in mine by stating that it is unfortunate that The New Times as well has not given HIV/AIDS awareness much airtime.
Whether repeatedly or not we should feed people with these words until everyone breaths, thinks, and smells of awareness. How many bill boards are there in the city creating HIV/AIDS awareness?