What She Said!

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

When Prudishness Costs Lives

New York Times

Published: December 19, 2006
"Here in Poipet, I met a 27-year-old woman with AIDS, Tem Phok. She had been a prostitute in a brothel, so I assumed that that was how she contracted AIDS. "Oh, no" she said. "I got AIDS later, from my husband," who has already died.

"In the brothel, I always used condoms," she said. "But when I was married, I didn't use a condom. ... A woman with a husband is in much more danger than a girl in a brothel."

That's an exaggeration, but she has a point: It doesn't do much good for American officials to preach abstinence and fidelity in places where the big risk of contracting H.I.V. comes with marriage. In countries with a high prevalence of AIDS, just about the most dangerous thing a woman can do is to marry." [emphasis mine]

What is it going to take to get these Republicans and priests to understand that withholding information about condoms is tantamount to murder. Every policy they advocate regarding reproduction results in women's deaths. I'm sorry, but I don't think a teenager should pay for doing what teens are built to do with her life. 38% of girls and 46% of boys know nothing about birth control at the time of their first sexual encounter. That's appalling. And deadly.

A woman with an unplanned pregnancy doesn't deserve to risk death through birth or an illegal abortion. Married women don't deserve to die for the infidelities of their husbands. People have sexual contact for many reasons, and some of those reasons involve violence and oppression. This is a violent, misogynistic world full of women who don't have choices and risk being murdered for even the suspicion of "dishonor."

The United States should be leading the way in the fight against AIDS. We should be leading the campaign to stop violence against women, and forced birth, as well as withholding information and access to condoms is violence against women. A live human's rights comes before a theoretical human life every time.