Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sports Leadership among Males in Preventing Violence Against Women and HIV in South Africa

For those who wonder how male athletes can begin shifting gender norms in society, check out the campaign against gender-based violence and HIV involving a handful of male pro athletes from South Africa. Notably, levels of HIV and violence against women in South Africa are outrageously high (see HERE and HERE).

This report by IRIN News overviews the media campaign:

These sporting talents will be Sports Ambassadors for Brothers for Life, a national campaign encouraging men to take a stand against gender-based violence and HIV.

They will promote messages on television, radio and outdoor advertising about the risks of alcohol and unprotected sex in relation to HIV, and support a national HIV
counselling and testing drive launched in April by President Jacob Zuma.

Although fewer men go to be tested or seek HIV/AIDS treatment than women, they have not been the main focus of previous prevention campaigns. Now, the Sports Ambassadors will be calling on men to "yenza kahle" (do the right thing).

"When good men don't stand up to be counted, HIV and AIDS spreads," said South Africa's Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe. "We call upon men of all classes and races to join the fight against HIV and AIDS, occupying the front trenches in this war through their social conduct."

The campaign begins strategically just before the World Cup kicks off, which will undoubtedly provoke excessive drinking, sex, and violence.

So now the question is, with South Africa's extremely high rates of HIV and violence against women already existing, will these male-led prevention efforts continue after the 2010 World Cup ends? If they do continue, kudos. If the campaign abruptly ends with the World Cup's departure, then we will know it was created simply for the theater -- to improve South Africa's international image while it hosts a major sporting event.

To be continued...

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