The role of the media in framing President Jacob Zumas multiple or concurrent sexual relationships as cultural polygamy

Davies-Laubscher, Nicola (2014-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Many questions have been asked as to why sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly South Africa, has such a high incidence of HIV/AIDS. While social and economic power imbalances between the sexes, coupled by the biological vulnerability of women, play an important role in the rapid spread of South Africa’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, what truly seems to set South Africa apart from the rest of the world is the high incidence of multiple or concurrent sexual relationships. Multiple or concurrent sexual relationships are defined as sexual partnerships that overlap in time, when one partnership starts before another terminates. These types of relationships have the potential to create complex sexual networks – commonly referred to as a “sexual superhighway” – for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, most notably HIV/AIDS. While the practice of multiple or concurrent sexual relationships is to a large extent under-reported by the South African media, a great deal of media attention is given to President Jacob Zuma’s practice of polygamy as a Zulu cultural tradition. The researcher proposes that Zuma’s intimate partnerships stray from the well-defined parameters of cultural polygamy and that he does, in fact, has multiple or concurrent sexual relationships that fall outside the boundaries of polygamy. The researcher further proposes that the example set by the President in his personal life has an effect on the general morality of the South African people and especially on women’s status in society.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Baie vrae is al gevra oor hoekom sub-Sahara Afrika, en spesifiek Suid-Afrika, so ʼn hoë voorkoms van MIV/Vigs het. ʼn Sosiale en ekonomiese magswanbalans tussen mans en vroue, tesame met die verhoogde biologiese kwesbaarheid van vroue vir seksueel-oordraagbare siektes, speel ʼn rol in die vinnige verspreiding van die MIV/Vigs epidemie in Suid-Afrika maar wat ons blykbaar onderskei van die res van die wêreld is die hoë voorkoms van veelvuldige of samelopende seksuele verhoudings. Veelvuldige of samelopende seksuele verhoudings word gedefinieer as verhoudings wat oorvleuel of waar een verhouding begin voordat ʼn vorige verhouding beëindig is. Hierdie tipe verhoudings het die potensiaal om komplekse seksuele netwerke te vorm – algemeen beskryf as “seksuele super-snelweë” – waarbinne seksueel-oordraagbare siektes, insluitende MIV/Vigs, vinnig kan versprei. Terwyl veelvuldige of samelopende seksuele verhoudings min aandag geniet in die Suid-Afrikaanse media, is daar wel ʼn fokus op President Jacob Zuma se uitlewing van sy Zulu-tradisie van poligamie. Die navorser stel egter voor dat Zuma se intieme verhoudings afwyk van die goedge-definieerde riglyne van kulturele poligamie en dat hy in werklikheid eerder veelvuldige of samelopende seksuele verhoudings het wat buite die reëls van poligamie val. Die navorser stel verder voor dat die voorbeeld wat die President in sy persoonlike lewe stel ʼn uitwerking het op die moraliteit van Suid-Afrikaners en veral op die status van vroue in die samelewing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86506
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