Chinese NGO explores new mode of AIDS prevention education

Chinese NGO explores new mode of AIDS prevention education

China, July 02, 2016 – China Daily

BEIJING — “What are the essential conditions for pregnancy?” “What is safe sex?” “If you or your partner fell pregnant, what would you do?”

In a rural middle school in Yingjiang County, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, teacher Nie Yongxian is giving a ninth grade class a sex-ed lesson.

The students are not shy and offered straightforward answers.

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Judge: Rape facilitates a natural society where men are protectors

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This class — “Youth Love Cabin,” is sponsored by the AIDS Prevention Education Project for Chinese Youth (APEPCY), a non-profit organization established by China Charities Aid Foundation for Children and the Chinese Society of Education, to promote sex education in Chinese schools to help prevent HIV/AIDS transmission among the youths.

While the number of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) on the Chinese mainland continues to rise and there is a trend for younger transmissions, there is still no official sex education in schools to teach students to protect themselves.

Established in 2006, APEPCY has sponsored 681 AIDS prevention cabins or “Youth Love Cabin” nationwide, exploring a new way to teach AIDS prevention and sex education.

Yingjiang experience

In Yingjiang, the China-Myanmar border which is close to the opium-producing “Golden Triangle,” the local government has collaborated with APEPCY as the region has a severe drug and HIV/AIDS epidemic.

In 2012, APEPCY piloted six cabins in Yingjiang County, and by October 2014, the project was in nearly all of the county’s 200 elementary and middle schools.

“By the end of 2016, we plan to form a full and systematic program, which unites the government and NGO forces,” said Zhang Liming, deputy director of the county’s education bureau.

Nie Yongxian, a teacher, said she did not know how or what to teach in the beginning.

“For our students, information on HIV/AIDS is what they needed most, ” Nie said, “and the dangers of drugs.”

Many people in the region are drug users, Nie sai. “Children have seen people taking drugs and may even been tempted themselves — they do not know whether it’s good or bad.”

“Therefore, telling them the dangers of drugs is also very important.”

For sex education, Nie said she conducted a survey to see what the students wanted to learn, and she answered their questions in class. But later when she underwent training, she learned that sex education should be taught systematically.

“Now, we teach physical hygiene in seventh grade, and expanded to sex education in the eighth grade,” Nie said. “I don’t think we should teach about pregnancy and contraception any time later.”

The third middle school of Yingjiang is the county’s biggest rural middle school.

Student Mo Guifang, 15, thinks the Youth Love Cabin is interesting as it taught her about puberty and birth control.

The classes have the support of parents, said principal Li Kaiji.

“As many parents are our students’ students,” she said, “it meant HIV/AIDS and drug knowledge went beyond the classroom.

Chen Zhongdan, UNAIDS strategic information adviser, supports the APEPCY project.

“We will consider cooperating with APEPCY to introduce the program to the rest of the country, and even the world,” he said.

The Base

Besides sponsoring Youth Love Cabins, APEPCY has also built up 11 Youth Love Bases in the country over the last decade, which offer training and liaison opportunities

The first was at Chengdu University, Sichuan Province, in 2009.

Gou Ping, director of the Sichuan Base and a psychology professor at Chengdu Normal University, said the base not only trained teachers but has supported teaching and research teams to promote sex education in schools.

In 2014, 20 sex education minor students from the university went to Yingjiang to teach classes. The course has recruited six grades of students and trained over 200 professional sex education teachers.

“We found that the sex education bias is huge,” said Gou, “Therefore, we are thankful that APEPCY gave us a reason to research sex education through the entry point of HIV/AIDS prevention.”

Wang Zuoshu, vice chairman of the Education, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee of the National People’s Congress, said sex education will benefit future generations.

He believes there are challenges ahead, such as constraints due to Chinese culture, as well as lack of funds, teachers and text books.

But president Zhang Yinjun has a clear vision. She said APEPCY will be more focused, innovative and mobilize more domestic and international forces in the future, to combine the experiences it has accumulated in ten years to better serve schools and institutions who wish to carry out HIV/AIDS prevention and sex education.

“APEPCY need more domestic and international support to communicate our ideas, letting more people join the HIV/AIDS prevention drive to ultimately realize the global zero AIDS goal,” she said.

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Gambian women cannot negotiate safe sex

Gambia, November 7, 2016 – Afrol News

It has been documented that most Gambian women lack the strength or skills to negotiate safe sex or take their own decisions concerning relationship, leading to a higher HIV/AIDS prevalence. Gambian women are also troubled by their high economic dependency, early and forced marriages.

Coercive sex, rape and condoning sexual harassment are also blamed for promoting the easy transmission of HIV/AIDS in a country that has 1.2 percent of its population living with the virus causing an African pandemic.

These resulted in a relatively higher number of HIV/AIDS among the female population in the country.

With an estimated population of 1.5 million people, it is disturbing to know that 54 percent of Gambian women are living with HIV/AIDS. And even more worrying is that most of these people fall within the age brackets of 15 and 25, a study conducted by the country’s National Aids Secretariat (NAS) published.

Out of all people living with HIV or AIDS in The Gambia 54 percent are women and 45 percent are men, the NAS study revealed. The high figures among women will definitely shake the country, whose economy depends to a large extent on women. Most Gambian women, especially those in the provinces, work 18 consecutive hours a day.

Researchers believed that the high rate of HIV/AIDS among Gambian women was caused by social, cultural, religious and traditional influences and practices specifically relating to sex and sexuality.

The NAS report came after another study exposed alarming sexual abuse and exploitation in both lower and higher educational institutions in The Gambia. And according to a UNICEF study, 64 percent of sample prostitutes among Gambian women are school girls below the age of 18.

In some cases, the UNICEF study presents proven evidences of students being impregnated by their teachers. The study reveals that pornography, prostitution, early marriage and cross-generation sex between teachers and students have become rampant in The Gambia.

It was found that these acts are common in higher educational institutions where teachers demand sexual favours from schoolgirls who fail their core subjects. There was also evidence of underage prostitution involving school going girls and boys in Gambian schools.

Appalled by the results of the study, UNICEF asked The Gambia government to urgently address these problems if it wanted to ensure a better future for the country’s girls and women.

In 2003, The Gambia government legislated the sex tourism act, which bans paedophilia and other sex crimes in the tourism industry. But paedophilia is still in existence in the country, as increasing poverty forces young girls to have sex with people who are old enough to be their grandfathers.

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When Ideas Have Sex

Africa, FEBRUARY 7, 2011 – Afrik News

I love sex. Don’t you? Sex is one of those things that brings people together in a particularly intimate way, exchanging tactile, olfactory, aural and oral pleasure. Sometimes the result is another living organism.
So what happens when ideas have sex? This was food for thought as I watched Matt Ridley’s talk on TED.com. He posited that throughout history, the acceleration of development has been fueled by the coming together of different ideas and perspectives, resulting in a new and better idea.

Harsh Sethia a nanotechnology blogger, seems to share this idea on his blog To The Power Minus 9. He describes how when you share an idea with others, you can get variety of sperm ideas to fertilize your ova of an idea that could result in the next big thing. Maybe the next Barak Obama or the next Sarah Palin. What is exciting is that it is not the first sperm idea that does the honors, but the most attractive sperm idea. Sometimes multiple sex acts with multiple people is needed to develop that idea.

Looking back on my own experiences, I realize my ideas have been so polyamorous it’s laughable. My ideas and my outlook on life have been shaped by interacting with so many different people and ideas. My ideas have not only gotten better by sharing or bouncing them off of others, but I have evolved in the process as well! In that sense, I have had thousands of orgasms with just as many ideas, and conceived and birthed almost as many. Of course, sometimes the sex isn’t that good, but other times it’s earth-shattering, gobsmacking terrific! Sometimes blanks are fired, or there’s a miscarriage, or even a stillbirth; but sometimes you conceive an adonis of an idea it makes you want to “slap yo’ mama!”

I encourage you to let your ideas have sex. Lots of it. See what happens when your ideas copulate with others’. The result might blow your mind, or maybe not. Either way, enjoy the process while you’re at it. Keep an open mind and explore anything and everything. As Matt Ridley puts it: “It is our habit of trade, idea-sharing and specialization that has created the collective brain which set human living standards on a rising trend.” And it’s all because “ideas are having sex with each other as never before.”

Go ahead. Have some sex.

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UN peacekeepers face new sex abuse allegations in Central African Republic

Egypt, April 18, 2017 – Egypt Independent

United Nation’s peacekeepers in Central African Republic were hit on Wednesday with fresh accusations of sex abuses uncovered by a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation amid growing concern about a failure to combat sexual misconduct.

Three teenage girls displaced from their homes by fighting in the strife-torn country told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that they had sex with Congolese peacekeepers over several weeks, resulting in at least two pregnancies.

The girls, aged between 14 and 17, live in temporary straw shelters in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) close to where over 500 UN peacekeepers, mainly from Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh and Cameroon are posted.

The minimum age of sexual consent in Central African Republic is 18. Sexual relations between peacekeepers and civilians are banned under UN protocol.

The accusations are the latest in a series of allegations against the 11,000-strong force known as MINUSCA, which has been operational in the country since April 2014.

The peacekeeping force, whose mandate refers to “specific protection for women and children”, became mired in a series of sex abuse scandals earlier this year with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon vowing to crackdown on sexual abuse.

One of the girls who spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation said she was 14 years old. She has given birth to a baby since her relationship with a Congolese soldier began.

Another girl, aged 17, who is now seven months pregnant, said the peacekeeper used to come regularly.

“He used to give me money, but he has not been to see me recently,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in the thatched wooden shelter where she now lives.

Promises to investigate

These girls and a number of other women spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation this week after eyewitnesses said they saw peacekeepers entering the camps in Bambari, 380 km (235 miles) northeast of the capital Bangui.

In April this year it was revealed that soldiers from Democratic Republic of Congo and other contributing countries, including Equatorial Guinea and Chad, together with French forces, had assaulted several children over a six month period.

The scandals escalated and prompted the UN in August to replace the head of the UN stabilization force in Central African Republic, Senegal’s Babacar Gaye, with Gabonese diplomat Parfait Onanga-Anyanga.

But the allegations of sexual misconduct have not stopped. In September the United Nations said it had received a new allegation of sexual abuse against a UN peacekeeper in Central African Republic.

Presented with the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s findings on Wednesday, Diane Corner, Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary General in Bangui said the allegations of under-age sex would be thoroughly investigated.

“This is completely unacceptable behaviour by MINUSCA peacekeepers,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the mission’s headquarters in Bangui.

She added that MINUSCA would treat the cases as allegations until it had established firmer details.

From the United Nations in New York, MINUSCA said in a draft of a statement that it would dispatch a multifunctional team to Bambari to gather facts and take immediate preventive and disciplinary measures as well as corrective action against misconduct.

Onanga-Anyanga said “any single incident of abuse was utterly abhorrent” and expressed sadness that such reports continue to emerge despite MINUSCA’s transparency and zero tolerance policies and efforts to prevent such misconduct, the statement said.

Aside from those revealed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Corner said she was now aware of 18 cases of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in the 18 months since its mandate came into force, nine of which involved children.

MINUSCA was set up to help stabilise Central African Republic after it was plunged into turmoil in early 2013 when Muslim rebels from a group called Seleka seized power in the majority-Christian country, provoked a violent backlash.

Seleka handed power to a transitional government in 2014 under international pressure and the country is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 13 after violence postponed planned October votes.

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Money can’t buy you love, but in Africa it’s bringing health, happiness and (delayed) sex

Africa, May 31 2014 – The East African

A curious phenomenon has been recorded in some parts of Africa: People are becoming happier.

The recent surge in happiness has even caught the attention of African leaders. At an April “expert consultation” in Cape Town hosted by the South African government, the African Union and Unicef, presentations were given that included an uplifting set of findings:

In Zambia, there has been a 45 per cent increase in the amount of people who say they’re better off than 12 months ago; Ghana saw a 16 per cent increase in the proportion of people answering “yes” to the question, “Are you happy with your life?” Malawi has seen a 20 per cent increase in people who say they are “very happy” with their life, and in Kenya, there’s been a 6 per cent increase in the Quality of Life index.

According to the impact evaluation work led by Unicef and partners, presented to around 40 African Union member states, people in some African countries are also eating better (Malawi and Zambia, for example, saw a 30 per cent increase in food consumption while Ghana recorded a 10 per cent decrease in the number of children missing a meal); are going to school more; are healthier (Liberia experienced a 20 per cent increase in curative care seeking, Ghana had a 20 per cent increase in health insurance coverage); are better nourished; and are transitioning to adulthood with greater success (Kenya saw reductions in early pregnancy and sexual debut, while South Africa saw a 63 per cent decrease in teenage girls having sex with older men, and drug and alcohol consumption was less likely.)

The reason behind all this happiness, health and (delayed) sex, says Unicef, is simple: Thousands of people living in impoverished communities in these countries suddenly have more cash in their pockets.

Some 20 countries across the continent have embraced what are known as a “social protection floors.” In essence, a growing number of national governments are deciding to support cash transfers to the poorest and most marginalised with no strings attached.

The idea is that even a small amount of cash can tip the balance back in favour of a family that may be struggling to survive. In countries where wages are often less than $1 a day, cash transfers of as little as $12 a month can have a profound impact. While traditional aid programmes continue to play a crucial role, it’s increasingly clear that it’s also very cost-effective to help governments disperse money.

Giving money to the poor in the developing world isn’t new. In the 1990s, Brazil began making “conditional” cash transfers to poor households where school-aged children were enrolled in school.

However, today, it is African governments who are leading the way in developing homegrown social protection programmes designed to respond to their specific contexts and characteristics. That is, unconditional cash transfers that build on existing strong community structures and hence address economic as well as social inequality.

Amid it all, rigorous evaluations have found that households receiving the cash do better. They eat better quality food, they can afford to buy livestock and their children go to school.

These benefits defy notions that social protection is a handout. Conversely, rather than create dependency, or become a burden on budgets, cash transfers invest in the poor’s human capital, allowing people to generate even more income.
The list of African countries now using cash transfer policies is impressive. In Lesotho, the Child Grant Programme is expected to cover 25,000 poor and vulnerable households, reaching 60,000 children, by 2014, more than doubling in two years.

Zambia’s expansion of its Social Cash Transfer Programme is expected to reach 190,000 households, or 1,000,000 people, by the end of 2014.

In Kenya, the government is planning to double the number of beneficiaries in its cash transfer programme.

Senegal is doubling the number of beneficiary households in its programme with plans to reach 250,000 by 2017. In Ghana, the programme has expanded its reach from 1,650 households in 2008 to 71,000 in 2013.

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Death penalty, no solution for rape

India, January 9, 2013 – The Hindu Business Line

After the brutal gang rape of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi, the rape capital of India, there is a growing demand from media, civil society groups and key opposition parties for giving death penalty to the rapists.

Will that be enough to check the occurrence of this heinous crime? Will that make Indian women feel safer? After all, death penalty has not stopped murders. Then, what is the guarantee that it will stop rapes? It seems the call for capital punishment ignores the ground realities and is likely to create more problems than it seeks to address.

When the family members of a rape victim get to know about the sad incidence, all efforts are made to hide it, out of fear, shame or mistrust of police.

The result is a substantial number of rape cases go unreported. Only a few rape victims dare to approach the police with request to lodge FIRs. Police give every excuse to convince the victims out of it.

Yet, if a victim persists or media highlights the crime, the police lodge an FIR. By that time, crucial evidence is either lost or culprits go underground.

Investigation in rape crimes do not rely much on scientific gathering of evidence but on witnesses who often turn hostile or are bought over a prolonged trial period.

Rape victims are subject to highly degrading finger test without much scientific justification. Defence lawyers use the findings of this archaic test to discredit the victim’s testimony.

Besides, a rape victim has to face humiliating questions like — ‘‘What were you doing there at that late in the night? Why did you go to that lonely place so late in the night (as if going out at a lonely place in the night gives someone the license to rape her)? Who was that person who was accompanying you? Is he your boyfriend?

Are you in a physical relationship with him? Did you tell your parents that you were going out with him, or did you lie about it? Do you remember what the accused was wearing while he was over you?”

The defence lawyers keep asking such uncomfortable questions to make the victim nervous and say something that contradicts her earlier statements and let their clients get way with lighter or no sentence.

We need to understand that it is unfair to judge a victim’s character. It does not make any difference whether she is in a relationship (physical or otherwise) with someone or not.

A rape is a rape. As per Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), it is primarily a sexual intercourse with a woman without her valid consent, except in the case of sex with a minor girl when it is rape —with or without her consent.

One of the most abused provisions is the definition of consent that remains vague and its presence or absence often depends upon understanding and interpretation of the presiding trial judge despite the amendments made subsequent to the decision in the Mathura case.

Many a times, absence of injury marks on the victim’s body is interpreted as implied consent.

Worse, the police sometimes press for compromise in a rape case by suggesting that the accused is ready to marry the rape victim…even though the crime is non-compoundable as per law.

PUNISHMENT ISSUES

The minimum punishment in a gang rape case is ten years of imprisonment that can go up to life imprisonment depending upon the gravity of the crime. Gang rape and murder together can fall under the category of rarest of the rare crimes as defined by Supreme Court and may invite death penalty. However, a death penalty involves stronger evidence requirement.

Besides, it follows a series of appeals and mercy petition to the President that often takes years to decide. The result: It delays the delivery of justice…and we all know justice delayed is justice denied.

Provision of death penalty in rape cases will only make matters worse by slowing the administration of justice. Besides, when victim is the sole witness, as in most sexual assault cases, it will induce murder of rape victims by the perpetrators of the crime to destroy the evidence — a situation supporters of death penalty would not want.

THE WAY OUT

The root of the problem lies in an unsupportive societal attitude towards rape victims, a deficient police and judicial system that result in lower conviction rate (26 per cent of all registered cases as per National Crime Records Bureau).

It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of the rape cases, more so in the rural areas, are not registered.

That leaves us with an actual conviction rate of around 13 per cent. Thus, a little less than 90 per cent of the rapists manage to escape the law.

It is important to remember that prevention of rape is as important as punishing it. That will require complete overhaul of India’s policing system.

To ensure compulsory registration of all rape cases (or any other crime against women,) a short-term solution can be to outsource the job to an independent third-party agency with the responsibility of immediately relaying the information to the nearby GPRS-enabled police patrol that must reach the crime scene within a reasonable time.

Investigation of rape cases needs to be left to a team of professionals with expertise in scientific evidence gathering. Reliance on forensic technology will lead to irrefutable evidence and ensure certainty of conviction.

This will check the problem of hostile witnesses and use of bribe for diluting the seriousness of the charges against the accused. It is time India introduced audit of policing to have an independent assessment of their functioning in particular with respect to crime against women.

Further tightening of the definition of the consent will check its misuse by defence lawyers. Instead of death penalty, a combination of heavy financial penalty, life imprisonment with no provision of parole and prompt delivery of justice through fast track courts can do the job effectively. Given the growing involvement of juveniles in heinous crimes like rape, instead of prescribing minimum age, a combination of age, criminal bent of mind and the accused intention to commit the crime should be considered.

While the above measures may check the incidence of rape, it would be naïve to assume that they will stop it.

The long-term solution lies in bringing an attitudinal change towards women through education and concerted efforts at gender sensitisation.