Domestic violence spreads HIV in South Africa

>> Over 1 In 4 South African Men Report Using Physical Violence Against Their Female Partners: CMAJ Study, Medical News Today (9 September 2008)

According to this article from Medical News Today:

A first-ever, national study conducted in South Africa found that 27.5 percent of men who have ever been married or lived with a partner report perpetrating physical violence against their current or most recent female partner. This study, led by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Yale School of Public Health, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa, appears in the September 9, 2008, issue of CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal.) […]

These findings are likely to have significant public health implications in battling South Africa’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, which is among the largest in the world. “Accumulating evidence linking men’s violence with their controlling and sexually risky behaviours (e.g., transactional sex, multiple partnering and inconsistent use of condoms), coupled with women’s inability to demand condom use in abusive relationships, underscore how the prevention of men’s violence against intimate partners may help to alter the course of South Africa’s HIV epidemic,” stated Dr. Jhumka Gupta, an author of the study. “Such initiatives should therefore be considered a public health priority.”

It’s not surprising that domestic violence contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS.  Forced sex, whether inside or outside a relationship is obviously a problem.  Furthermore, if a woman is afraid her partner will injure her if he gets angry, how can she ask him to change his behavior (e.g. be faithful or use a condom) to protect her?  And how could she take steps to protect herself if that involved defying him?  She may end up sacrificing her long-term safety for her short-term safety: to avoid a beating, she puts herself at risk for AIDS.  What a terrible, terrible choice.  A terrible situation.

The article also notes that, “Globally, some 15 to 75% of women report experiencing intimate partner violence in their lifetime.”  That is horrifying.

For more on how the oppression of women contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the developing world, see this previous post.

Finally, here are some excerpts from a prayer for overcoming violence against women and children, made available by the National Council of Churches in Australia.

Compassionate God, you promised life to those who trust in you,
you gave Lazarus new life,
you assured us that “today, you shall be with me in paradise!”
Tender God, something is wrong;
women are brutalised and children abused,
lives are lost or forever changed as a result of inhumanity,
violence perpetrates violence through generations.

Ever living God, we pray for women and children
victimised through violence and oppression,
heal their emotional and physical wounds,
comfort them in their sorrow and need,
foster and restore their trust,
empower them with renewed life,
present to them alternatives – new paths.

Merciful God, forgive the perpetrators
of these crimes against all humanity;
in their blindness to reality,
they know not the limits of their strength,
or the hurt they inflict;
bring them to repentance and justice.

God of all tenderness and compassion,
open our hearts to hear your call
to reach out to all who have been created by you;
open the doors of our church
to embrace women and children experiencing violence and oppression,
to see their need, and to respond with love.
Lord, you are our refuge and strength, our very present help in trouble;
stretch out your hand and bring these women and children close to you.
Give us the spirit to break the silence;
to stretch out our hands, giving courage, HOPE and peace. Amen.

Amen, amen.

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~ by h.e.g. on September 9, 2008.

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