8.19.2005

The Other Half By BABATUNDE OSOTIMEHIN

New York Times:


"Though data show that girls and women are far more vulnerable to infection than men, we have yet to summon the courage and the political will to empower and protect them.

In Nigeria, and across sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, epidemics are already feminized. For example, nearly 58 percent of Nigerians with H.I.V. are female. What's more, in virtually every region of the world, infections among girls and women are rising sharply.

For example, a major partner, the United States government, enthusiastically promotes abstinence until marriage as the main way for young people to avoid H.I.V. infection. Abstinence is one critical prevention strategy, but it cannot be the only one. Focusing on abstinence assumes young people can choose whether to have sex. For adolescent girls in Nigeria and in many other countries, this is an inaccurate assumption. Many girls fall prey to sexual violence and coercion. Many others are married off very young, as young as 13 or 14, long before they are psychologically or physically ready. Abstinence is not an option for these girls, nor is getting their partners to use condoms. It is unacceptable for a woman or girl to ask her partner to use one in our part of the world. In Nigeria, only 23 percent of the men and 8 percent of women use condoms regularly, and, as elsewhere, almost none of them use condoms with a spouse or primary partner."
[emphasis mine]

I REPEAT:

Focusing on abstinence assumes young people can choose whether to have sex

Focusing on abstinence assumes young people can choose whether to have sex

Focusing on abstinence assumes young people can choose whether to have sex

If you're molested, prostituted, sold, married-off at a young age or raped by a UN "Peace Keeper", abstinence is not an option. Condoms may not be either, but at least put the information out there.

Sex should be one of life's great joys. It wouldn't be fatal if Saint Ronnie had done his job when he had the chance, and George is making it worse. How many people have to die for this Administration's superstition and bigotry?