Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Feminism, Gender Violence, HIV/AIDS

It is women who are being raped

Many acts of Gender Based Violence which could lead to contracting HIV/AIDS, are part of the daily experience for women in Darfur. As part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women, a short play on HIV/AIDs was performed in Abu Shouk refugee camp in North Darfur.


A short skit on HIV grips the attention of the audience; the HI virus, dressed in bright red and wearing what is intended to be a horrifying mask, warns of the doom that is sure to follow anyone who dares to take sexual risks.

The skit’s protagonist contracted HIV from a scheming ‘town’ girl, who, having discovered her own status, sets out to infect 150 men with HIV.

The message might be skewed, painting AIDS as a virtual death sentence and people living with the virus as malicious individuals intent on passing it on, but the performance also clearly demonstrates the key messages about HIV prevention and treatment…….

“Domestic violence, rape, sexual exploitation of children, forced marriage – they all have consequences, including death and HIV/AIDS,”

As the report points out, a play promoting awareness around HIV/AIDS would not have been possible in Darfur a few years ago and is certainly a positive move. However there are other aspects of the play that have a “skewed message”. It is a woman ” a scheming town girl” that is responsible for not only passing on the virus to the protagonist but who then chooses to “infect” 150 other men with HIV. In this way the play actually contradicts the reality of how HIV/AIDS is spread by putting the blame of transmission solely onto women.



  1. And worse, it shuts the eyes to men as victims as well as oppressors.

    The women are raped, but also men are raped in the terrible wars going on. the resultant shame is something indescribable. The macho masculine african man is a fragile human vessel that is repeatedly deified by the culture of ‘woman is weak and sinful’ and ‘man is strong and good’.


  2. acolyte

    Well when it comes to AIDS campaigns there is always more than one side to the tale. Of course we all know in a setting like Sudan more often than not it is forced sex that makes women get HIV but there are also some of those cases like the scenario described above.
    It is best to give more than one scenario so as not to alienate any side of the audience. If they ran 3 skits blaming men, that would make them shun anything they would be told after that since they would be on the defensive but on the other hand the burden cant be placed on women.
    Oh well that is my $0.02

  3. Comment by post author


    Acolyte @ “Forced sex” – its called RAPE! Raising awareness around HIV is not about blame. The most important thing is to present the truth around HIV or any other illness.

  4. thanks for posting this. too often the discourse around HIV/AIDs is individualized into obscurity. of course one woman can spread HIV/AIDs but reducing it to an individual phenomenon is problematic. furthermore, i wonder how this film may actually spread more violence. if women are seen as the “cause” and spreaders of HIV/AIDs then this justifies more violence against women. the film also assumes that those who have HIV/AIDs purposely spread the disease. i applaud the attempt, but the execution could be a bit more nuanced…

  5. and by film, i meant skit 🙂