Tackle pornography in fight against HIV in Uganda

The media are awash with news of defilement. Defilers traumatise and predispose their victims to the risk of HIV infection. Last year 12,230 defilement cases were reported to the Police, while in 2006, 15,385 cases were reported. Many more cases go unreported for fear of shame.

Much as the Government should be applauded for the Presidential Initiative for AIDS Strategy Communication to Youth programme which has expanded HIV prevention education to primary schools, more needs to be done to eliminate defilement in schools and other predisposing factors like exposure to pornography.

It is cynical that a nation whose motto is For God and my country has its print media flooded with tabloids. Furthermore, the advertising media industry has exposed the nation to unprecedented levels of pornography and obscenity.

Pornography refers to any graphic (pictorial) or any other forms of communication that is intended to incite sexual feelings. It has spread to schools, universities and offices.

In rural areas, video shacks operating battery-controlled equipment show pornographic movies.

With the advent of multichannel television, children have access to this material at the click of a remote button.

Pornography also seems to be the central business on which Internet cafés are thriving. However, the consequences are dire.

Studies indicate that children exposed to pornography are vulnerable and can be affected for life.

The influx of pornography has created a class of people who believe they are ‘sex animals’ and young children have fallen prey to them.

Steven Langa, in his book Pornography in Uganda; The naked truth details some of the devastating consequences of pornography on society.

The book contains many personal testimonies ranging from deviant sexual behaviour, sex orgies in school, rape, and defilement to masturbation and its role in the spread of HIV. The victims suffer fear, guilt and shame for life if they do not get counselling.

Similarly, a survey done in the US revealed that 35% of men who were exposed to pornography on regular basis confessed willingness to rape a woman “If they can get away with it.” This is a lot easier in Africa where a number of women have low self esteem. This could become a breeding ground for rapists.

The majority of Uganda’s population structure is dominated by the youth, many of whom do not have strong moral values. They are, therefore, bound to be influenced by emerging negative moral trends.

This is made worse by the fact there few resources and experts to deal with some of the consequences of pornography.

Where are the moralists of our times? Fans of pornography should be educated that what goes in determines what comes out. If you spend quality time reading newspapers, you will think and talk about news but if you spend time reading pornography, your mind will be preoccupied with it.

To fight HIV and AIDS effectively, Uganda should fight pornography and other pre-disposing factors.

The Media Council and other relevant authorities that barred the staging of the infamous play, Vagina monologues, could use the same mandate to purge this nation of pornography.

Alternatively, they can gazette places where such materials are sold to protect the rest of the public from viewing such obscenities.

If such radical steps are not taken, Uganda could reverse the gains made in reducing the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.

By Apophia Agiresaasi
The writer is the SPH – CDC HIV/AIDS fellow at Parliament



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