December 5, 2004: Headlines: COS - Gabon: HIV: AIDS: Education: Women's Issues: Washington Post: The Power To Say No To AIDS

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Gabon: Peace Corps Gabon : The Peace Corps in Gabon: December 5, 2004: Headlines: COS - Gabon: HIV: AIDS: Education: Women's Issues: Washington Post: The Power To Say No To AIDS

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, June 26, 2005 - 3:01 pm: Edit Post

The Power To Say No To AIDS

The Power To Say No To AIDS

The Power To Say No To AIDS

The Power To Say No To AIDS

By Kohar Jones
Sunday, December 5, 2004; Page B07

I was in a taxi in the Central African country of Gabon, traveling from Lambarene, where I worked at Albert Schweitzer Hospital, to the capital, Libreville. Sharing the cab with me was a young village woman.

She offered 6,000 CFA ($12) for the ride. The driver wanted her to add another 500. She protested that her husband hadn't given her enough money. They haggled back and forth. She took a seat, and we started off without his verbal agreement to accept her offered price.

The bartering continued, in spurts and lags, as we continued past wooden slat huts with tin roofs, past banana stalks being sold by the side of the street on oil cans, the occasional bushmeat from the rainforest (monkey, armadillo, crocodile) hanging to be sold.

Her husband didn't support her as he should, the driver goaded her. He would have given his wife 60,000 CFA to travel.

In that case, she replied, he was a rich man who didn't need her money.

"I'm always looking for a good exchange," he said. She could buy him a Coca-Cola in Libreville.

Laughing nervously, she begged him to leave her alone. He kept pushing the Coke. She needed to give him the equivalent of the missing 500 CFA somehow.

He became threatening. Would she continue on to Libreville? Or would he have to drop her off on the side of the road?

Laughter continued, but the conversation was serious. Would he try to take advantage of her? She couldn't say no. "Men are stronger than women," the taxi driver reminded her.

I gave the woman a 500 CFA note. But when I got out, she remained in the front seat, alone with the driver.

Transactional sex. Consensual, but not really. Based on disenfranchisement rather than choice.

In the hospital where I worked, desperate women brought their malaria-ridden children to the pediatric ward. After paying the fee for a consultation, they had no money left for food. The quinine intravenous drip might attack the malarial parasites, but the children still would slowly starve to death.

"Buy food for the child!" one pediatrician, a Congolese woman, ordered a mother.

"There is no money," she replied.

"Find a new man," was the doctor's advice.

The woman's ability to provide for her children depended on her ability to attract a man to trade sex for child support.

Would the sex be safe? When members of the mobile Program for Mother Infant Health taught village women to use condoms to avoid getting HIV, Gabonese village men, standing at the edge of the circle of mothers and babies, heckled us: "Sex with a condom is like eating a banana with the peel still on!"

Three-quarters of people aged 15 to 24 living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women.

Over three-quarters of the world's women living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa.

More is needed from the United States than its financial commitment to funding HIV prevention and treatment. The U.S. government should apply political leverage to ensure that the governments of developing countries address property rights, basic education and employment opportunities for women and girls. It should help women become financially independent, so they no longer have to trade sex for support and can grow, if they choose, to be the healthy mothers of a stable society.

The writer is a student at the Yale School of Medicine.

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in over 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related reference material in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about RPCVs who have your same interests, who served in your Country of Service, or who serve in your state.

WWII participants became RPCVs Date: February 13 2005 No: 442 WWII participants became RPCVs
Read about two RPCVs who participated in World War II in very different ways long before there was a Peace Corps. Retired Rear Adm. Francis J. Thomas (RPCV Fiji), a decorated hero of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 100. Mary Smeltzer (RPCV Botswana), 89, followed her Japanese students into WWII internment camps. We honor both RPCVs for their service.

February 12, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 12 2005 No: 443 February 12, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Peter McPherson keeping busy in DC 12 Feb
Martha Ryan wins Award for pre-natal program 12 Feb
John Perkins reveals dark side of U.S. aid 10 Feb
Kathleen DeBold involved in lesbian activism 10 Feb
Jim Doyle to fix Wisconsin deficit without raising taxes 10 Feb
Chris Dodd proposes Class Action Fairness Act 10 Feb
RPCVs create Tsunami Assistance Project for India 9 Feb
Donna Shalala talks about her Peace Corps days 8 Feb
Senator Frist proposes Global Health Corps 8 Feb
Bush's budget to end Perkins loan forgiveness for PCVs 8 Feb
Tom Petri's Direct Loan Reward Act to save $18 billion 8 Feb
Izaak Edvalson helps educate a Doctor 7 Feb
Carol Bellamy condemns Female genital mutilation 7 Feb
Carl Pope criticizes Bush environmental priorities 7 Feb
Mike Tidwell defends wind farms 6 Feb
Kinky Friedman for real? Voters may not care 5 Feb
Bruce Anderson's Newspaper folds amid money woes 5 Feb

Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.
RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.
RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Washington Post

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Gabon; HIV; AIDS; Education; Women's Issues


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.