Women's vulnerability, sexual power and prevention of stigma : what do prevention campaigns tell us

Bue, Martine Eriksen (2014-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The HIV-epidemic that is evident in South Africa today is infecting more women than men. This is mostly due to the vulnerability that women are facing in sexual relationships, where they are not able to negotiate the terms and conditions of their sexual engagement. Patriarchy, the culture of masculinity and a general male dominance influence women’s dependency on their man and agency inside and outside of the home, and contribute to the oppression of women both generally in society and sexually. Women have by this not the control over their own bodies and are for this reason in a high-risk position of contracting HIV. The vulnerability is further linked to the stigmatisation that women experience if they do try to negotiate preventative measures to reduce the risk of transmission. The fear of being stigmatised as ‘loose’ or HIV-positive by both men and women if suggesting condom use, inhibits women to propose the necessary actions for protection. Stigmatising behaviours also impact on a person’s fear of becoming HIV-positive and reduces the likelihood of getting tested, disclose one’s status to sexual partners and receive treatment. This thesis examines cultural and socio-economic issues that contribute to gender inequality in South Africa, and can generate stigma towards women on the basis of HIV and AIDS. This is done by using radical feminism as the theoretical framework for contextualising how women are situated in the South African society, in terms of general and sexual agency. Through the method of content analysis and the findings from the theoretical framework, the thesis further analyses how the three HIVprevention campaigns loveLife, Brothers for Life and TAC manage to address the issues related to stigma based on HIV/AIDS, which are directed towards women. Race, class and gender are all factors that influence the likelihood of becoming HIV-infected and of becoming stigmatised. Women’s low social status situates women in a position where they are more probable to be the object of stigmatisation since they already are considered lower in rank. If the women also are of colour, poor and low educated the chances of becoming stigmatised on the basis of HIV and AIDS are even more likely, the same is the chances of becoming HIV-infected. This indicates that poor, uneducated black women are the group that is most vulnerable towards stigmatisation as well as towards HIV-transmission. Socio-economic and cultural factors have a strong influence on the gender inequality in sexual relationships found in South Africa, which cause HIV to spread and can generate stigmatising behaviours. Stigmatisation on the basis of HIV/AIDS is therefore important to address in order to reduce the number of new HIV-infections. The three campaigns analysed for this thesis did neither directly address stigma on a general level nor directed towards women. The campaigns are therefore considered to be missing an important feature of HIV-prevention in South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die huidige Suid-Afrikaanse Vigsepidemie infekteer meer vroue as mans. Dit is die geval weens die kwesbaarheid wat vroue ervaar in seksuele verhoudings, waar vroue nie die mag het om die omstandighede van hul seksuele interaksies te onderhandel nie. Patriargie, die kultuur van manlikheid en ‘n algemene manlike dominansie beïnvloed vroue se mag en dra by tot die onderdrukking van vroue, beide in die samelewing in die algemeen en in seksuele verhoudings. Om hierdie rede het vroue nie beheer oor hul eie liggame nie en daarom ervaar hulle ‘n hoë risiko om MIV op te doen. Hierdie kwesbaarheid word ook verbind aan die stigmatisering wat vroue ervaar wanneer hulle probeer om voorkomende aksie te neem ten einde die risiko van Vigsoordrag te verminder. Die vrees om deur mans en ander vroue gestigmatiseer te word as iemand met ‘losse sedes’, of as iemand wat MIV-positief is wanneer hulle kondoomgebruik voorstel, weerhou vroue daarvan om die nodige voorkomende aksie vir selfbeskerming te neem. Stigmatiserende gedrag het ook ‘n impak op ‘n mens se vrees om MIV-positief te word en verminder die waarskynliheid dat jy jouself vir die virus sal laat toets, dat iemand hul status aan seksuele maats sal verklaar, of behandeling sal ontvang. Diegene wat reeds MIV onder lede het is bang om hul status te verklaar weens die gepaardgaande stigma. Hierdie tesis ondersoek kulturele en sosio-ekonomiese kwessies wat bydra tot geslagsongelykheid in Suid-Afrika, en wat stigma kan veroorsaak teenoor vroue met betrekking tot MIV and Vigs. Die studie analiseer dan of Vigsveldtogte hierdie stigma kan aanspreek. Dit word gedoen deur radikale feminisme toe te pas as ‘n teoretiese raamwerk om vroue se plek in die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing te kontekstualiseer, beide in terme van algemene en seksuele mag. Die metode van inhoudsanalise word toegepas om drie Vigsvoorkomingsveldtogte (loveLife, Brothers for Life en TAC) te analiseer en vas te stel of en hoe hulle kwessies wat betrekking het op stigma teenoor vroue aanspreek. Sosio-ekonomiese en kulturele faktore het ‘n sterk invloed op die geslagsongelykeid in seksuele verhoudings in Suid-Afrika; dit lei daartoe dat MIV versprei word en kan stigmatiserende gedrag vererger. Om hierdie rede is dit belangrik dat MIV/Vigsvoorkomingsveldtogte stigmatisering aanspreek ten einde gedrag te wysig en om die getal nuwe Vigsbesmettings te laat daal. Die drie veldtogte wat in hierdie tesis geanaliseer is het beide nagelaat om stigma direk aan te spreek op ‘n algemene vlak, en was ook nie direk gerig op vroue nie. Die veldtogte kan daarom beskou word as ontoereikend deurdat hulle belangrike komponente van MIV-voorkomig in Suid-Afrika misgekyk het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86385
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