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close this bookYoung Women: Silence, Suspectibility and the HIV Epidemic (UNDP, 10 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentGender as an independent variable for hiv infection
View the documentSilence
View the documentAge as an independent variable for hiv infection
View the documentAnatomy as destiny?
View the documentSituational factors
View the documentThe unheard scream
View the documentThe prophetic voice
View the documentAn action agenda
View the documentBreaking the silence
View the documentChanging the operational research agenda
View the documentSanctuaries
View the documentSanctions
View the documentSafety
View the documentRestructuring gender
View the documentThe circle of the dance
View the documentReferences

Breaking the silence

The silence surrounding the infection of young women must be broken. Girls and young women must be able to speak out, to cease to feel silenced or powerless to change what happens to them. Others, too, must speak out.

It is critical that parents, communities and nations realize that, unless they face this issue urgently, not only will many young women be lost but so, too, will their children and their children's children. Clans and communities will cease to exist and, with them, their ancestors. Pregnancy, birth and nurturing, the continuity of life will all be placed in jeopardy.

If the silence is broken and young infected women begin to speak out and tell their stories, we must have already in place effective programmes to prevent their younger sisters from also becoming infected. If not, the breaking of the silence will add the agony of younger girls who will now know that they face a future of possible, perhaps almost certain, infection, to the agony of the young women already infected. Young girls will feel powerless to avoid the fate of their mothers and older sisters.

The psychological trauma of such a situation is virtually beyond comprehension. If we do not succeed in developing an effective, timely agenda for action, the insight and analysis which demands that the silence be broken will become a curse.