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Letter to "Choices E-zine" Editor

HIV crisis in Africa and scapegoating of prostitutes

Forum: Feminist Majority Foudation
Date: 03/22/2001

From: emi <>
To: <>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2001 17:44:49 -0800

Dear folks,

I think that the article below, which was sent as part of the "Choices E-zine 03/21/01," is based on a blatantly prejudiced and oppressive stereotype and scapegoating against prostitutes.



According to several reports by senior nuns, and in one case by a priest, the sexual abuse of nuns by priests, including rape, is a serious problem in the Catholic Church, especially in Africa and the developing nations where the AIDS epidemic has hit hardest. In areas where there is a high rate of HIV and AIDS infection among prostitutes, nuns and young girls are seen as safe targets.

The fact is that in many African countries "where the AIDS epidemic has hit hardest," prostitutes are much more likely to use condoms consistently than any other women or men to the point that many other women refuse to carry or use condoms for the fear that they might be seen as prostitutes (a clear evidence that the stigmatization of prostitutes is hurting all women, not just prostitutes).

By uncritically reporting the stereotype of prostitutes being responsible for spreading HIV, you are taking part in this vast scapegoating of prostitutes, and ultimately helping the spread of the epidemic.

Emi Koyama

-- * Putting the Emi back in Feminism since 1975.

Feminist Majority Foundation Responds:

From: "Nikki Lyn DeBlosi" <>
To: <>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001 11:51:49 -0500

Dear Ms Koyama:

Thanks so much for your message regarding part 1 of our series on the sex scandal involving Catholic priests worldwide.

In no way was our intention to imply that prostitutes are responsible for the spread of AIDS. According to the documents detailing the sexual exploitation of nuns, and indeed to stereotypes about prostitutes in many countries, priests in Africa and other developing nations see young women and nuns as "safe" from HIV, while they see prostitutes as "at risk." This is not to say that they are correct or that their behavior is understandable in any way. The Feminist Majority does not condone such sexist practices that put all women at risk, and stigmatize condom use.

Thanks for giving us the info on condom use (esp. regarding the fact that women who are not sex workers are less likely to use condoms because of the stigmatization issue). We will definitely keep that info for future stories. Are there other sites that have info on sex workers and AIDS that you think are reliable sources of info?

For Equality,
Nikki DeBlosi
Web Content Editor
Feminist Majority