Gender roles in the African culture : implications for the spread of HIV/AIDS

Ngubane, Siegfried Johan (2010-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Industrial Psychology. Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The AIDS epidemic presently engulfing South Africa is mostly based on heterosexual transmission. This paper discusses the male role in African culture in the HIV and AIDS context. Issues facing African women, domestic violence in particular, remain a pervasive problem. Women have not yet reached a level of equality and are still being dominated by their male partners. Women’s subordination can be directly linked to the increasing number of women becoming infected with HIV/AIDS, especially within the African cultural context. Culture plays a vital role in determining the level of health of the individual, the family and the community. This is particularly relevant in the context of Africa, where the values of extended family and community significantly influence the behaviour of the individual. The behaviour of the individual in relation to family and community is one major cultural factor that has implications for sexual behaviour and HIV/AIDS prevention and control efforts. As the impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa remains unabated, a culture-centred approach to prevention, care and support is increasingly desirable as a critical strategy. The focus of prevention of the heterosexual AIDS epidemic has been on women. The role of men in sexual decision-making has not been emphasized enough in AIDS prevention approaches. As a result, the heterosexual epidemic for women continues unabated because of the lack of attention to the behaviour of male sex partners. Discussion focuses on the cultural and contemporary sexual culture as shaping factors in the enactment of high-risk sexual behaviour. There are numerous social, political, cultural and economic factors affecting the HIV pandemic in the SA region. The main ones are: low status of women and male dominance in sexual and economic relations; sexual abuse (of particularly young girls); historic and current separation of families resulting from the migrant labour system which resulted in multiple sexual partners; high use of sex workers due to single-sex quarters at the workplace; cultural resistance to the use of condoms; high rates of other STD’s; and high levels of poverty and other inequalities such as health access and education. Stigma about HIV is also a barrier to reaching the most vulnerable, including those already infected. The paper draws the conclusion that discrimination against women, coupled with male dominance in all aspects of social structures; polygamous marriages were prescribed and supervised by maledominated social structures has increased the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the African cultural context.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die HIV/Vigs pandemie wat tans Suid Afrika oorweldig is meestal die gevolg van heteroseksuele oordrag. Hierdie verhandeling bespreek die manlike rol in die Afrika kultuur in die konteks van MIV en Vigs. Aspekte wat die Afrika vroue in die gesig staar in terme van gesinsgeweld bly `n aanhoudende probleem. Vroue word steeds deur hul manlike maats gedomineer word en dus steeds nie `n vlak van gelykheid bereik het nie. Die onderdrukking van vroue kan direk gekoppel word aan die toenemende aantal vroue wat met MIV/Vigs geïnfekteer word – veral in die Afrika konteks. Kultuur speel ʼn kritieke rol in die bepaling van die gesondheidsvlak van die individu, gesin en gemeenskap. Dit is besonder relevant in die Afrika konteks, waar die waardes van `n uitgebreide gesin en gemeenskap ʼn enorme invloed het op die optrede van `n individu. Hierdie optrede in verhouding tot die gesin en gemeenskap is `n geweldige factor wat implikasies het op seksuele gedrag en op pogings tot voorkoming en beheer van MIV/Vigs. Terwyl die impak van MIV/Vigs in Suid Afrika ongesteurd voortstu, word `n kultuur gesentreerde benadering tot voorkoming, versorging en ondersteuning toenemend nodig as `n kritieke strategie. Die fokus op die voorkoming van die heteroseksuele Vigs pandemie was tot nou toe op vroue. Die rol van mans in seksuele besluitneming was tot dusvêr nie voldoende beklemtoon in Vigs voorkomende benaderings nie. Die gevolg is dat die heteroseksuele Vigs pandemie vir vroue ongesteurd voortduur weens die gebrek aan aandag op die gedrag van manlike seksmaats. Bespreking fokus op die kulturele en kontemporêre seksuele kultuur as vormende faktore in die uitvoer van hoë risiko seksuele gedrag. Daar is verskeie sosiale, politieke, kulturele en ekonomiese faktore wat die MIV/Vigs pandemie in die streek beïnvloed. Die belangrikstes is: lae status van vroue; manlike dominasie in seksuele en ekonomiese verhoudings; seksuele mishandeling – veral van jong meisies; historiese en huidige skeiding van gesinne voortspruitend uit die stelsel van trekarbeid – wat aanleiding gegee het tot `n verskeidenheid van seksuele maats; die hoë voorkoms van sekswerkers agv enkelgeslag woonkwartiere by die werksplek; kulturele weerstand teen die gebruik van kondome; hoë voorkoms van seksueel oordraagbare siektes; hoë vlakke van armoede en ander ongelykhede soos toegang tot gesondheidsdienste en onderwys. Die stigma van MIV/Vigs is ook `n hindernis in die bereiking van die mees kwesbare, insluitend die wat geïnfekteer is. Hierdie verhandeling maak die gevolgtrekking dat diskriminasie teen vroue, gekoppel met manlike dominasie in alle aspekte van sosiale strukture; poligamiese huwelike wat voorgeskryf word en onder toesig is van manlik gedomineerde sosiale strukture, die voorkoms van MIV/Vigs in die Afrika kulturele konteks verhoog het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4195
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