AIDS Review: Third Degree (2012)

Page 1

Third Degree AIDS Review

Guest Editor: Cal Volks | Series Editor: Mary Crewe


Anton Smit, The burning man, 2012. Metal. Collection of University of Pretoria. Photo: EYEscape.

Third Degree AIDS Review

Front cover: Andries Botha, For those who will not hear, 1995. Bronze. Collection of Durban University of Technology. Photographer: Paul Mills. I entered a public commissioning process to pitch for this work. ... I knew that the proposed position of this work would be outside the library ... of the Durban University of Technology. What I was actually trying to capture or distil was the idea that education was rarely about the

This extraordinary Review is a collaboration between the

art of listening and doing a small bit of talking. I was also

HIV/AIDS Institutional Coordination Unit (University of Cape

wondering, as the baton of our authority shifted ... from

Town) and the Centre for the Study of AIDS (University of

white ... to black South Africans, if a new generation would improve upon the obtuseness of the previous generation.

Pretoria). This Review is partially funded by HEAIDS, the

Would it be that another idea of power could be more

HIV/AIDS programme of Higher Education South Africa, and

responsive to the needs of our beleaguered humanity?

the European Union. The views expressed in the Review do not necessarily express those of any of the funders.

An institute of learning presupposes that the secrets that we seek on the journey of our historical evolution are embedded within or without our evolving humanity and the archive of knowledge that we hold and that we have

Publisher: Centre for the Study of AIDS University of Pretoria

learnt from our experience. With all public works, once

Guest editor: Cal Volks

you release them, they are then subject to the vagaries of

Series editor: Mary Crewe

a mass of people that will then read the work in multiple

Editor: Robin Hamilton

different ways. It is interesting for me that this work has

Design and production: Bluprint Design

never ever been vandalised ... On the other hand, it is also interesting to me that the institution, who is supposed to care for its cultural investment, has paid little attention to it and neither given much love to it. That is just the way

Copyright Š 2012, University of Pretoria and the authors. All rights reserved.

in which art enters the world, mostly through the back door (Andries Botha, February 2012).

ISBN 978-1-86854-728-9

7 Foreword

13 HIV/AIDS and higher education: are we asking the correct questions?

Cal Volks

29 Hypocrisy, HIV and higher education:


an ‘institutional integrity’ hypothesis

Pierre Brouard


Bland management

Mary Crewe

63 Cultural nostalgia and critical dialogue in peer education? Towards a generative space for HIV prevention in higher education settings

Relebohile Moletsane

77 Interrogating the link between gendered

sexualities, power and legal mechanisms:

experiences from the lecture room

Sylvia Tamale

Willem Boshoff, Thinking stone, 2010. Belfast black granite. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-

105 Centre for the Study of AIDS

on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

109 HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-ordination Unit

Photo: Angela de Jesus.


David Brown, Dialogue at the dogwatch, 1994. Bronze, copper, brass, corten and stainless steel. Collection of University of Cape Town. Photo: Katherine Traut.


Foreword Tertiary institutions occupy a unique position in shaping

history, the nature and the shape of the epidemics – their

debate, action and policy with regards to HIV and AIDS.

swathe through society being the greatest social challenge

This, the second extraordinary AIDS Review, Third degree,

of our time – reveal themselves as an intellectual conun-

examines various ways in which tertiary institutions could

drum, and therefore a core function of tertiary institutions

be, and are, responding to the HIV and AIDS epidemics.

is to address them. An effective response requires that

(We speak of these as distinct, but overlapping, epi-

the entire institution recognise both the threat of HIV

demics because HIV infection, as a period of apparent

and AIDS and the possibilities for a transformed institu-

wellness but increasing vulnerability to illness, not only

tion and society that they represent. This involves eval-

precedes the formal clinical stage of AIDS, but it also

uating the essence, culture and power of the institution

carries sometimes different personal and social meanings

– its sometime hidden workings – and its relationship

and requires different responses from public health and

and interaction with wider society.

other practitioners.) Living and working in the epicentre of epidemics like HIV This Review is a collaboration between HAICU, based at

and AIDS positions one very differently in relation to the

the University of Cape Town, and the CSA, based at the

concerns of the rest of the world, and the rest of the

University of Pretoria. These two organisations are com-

world dealing with HIV and AIDS (noting that it is a

mitted to finding ways to understand and explain the

unique ’world’ of its own with a culture, dynamics and

HIV and AIDS epidemics, and to determining how tertiary

contestations). We have watched as HIV prevalence

institutions and the wider society may come to address

rose, and we have seen how the epidemics have become

and act on the many complex and fascinating social, moral,

routinised. They are now seen as yet another fact of South

political, economic and educational issues that the epi-

African life and in some ways as taken for granted as

demics raise.

reckless driving, violence, crime and poverty, and a sort of weariness sets in, a fatalism, a feeling that perhaps in the

The reason why tertiary institutions should respond to

end all we can do is to sit them out.

HIV and AIDS lies potentially in the recognition that the


But on the other hand, being in the epicentre of these

In times of crisis, such as are posed by the HIV and AIDS

epidemics means that their impact is such that we have

epidemics, or in protecting a fragile democracy, the intel-

to find ways to live through and beyond them and emerge

lectual is very often looked upon to represent, speak out

as a far better society than before, develop new social

for, and testify to the sufferings of others, and to offer

understandings and meanings and see how they can

a vision of a new society based on new ways of seeing

shape the country in ways not yet seen or imagined.

and living.

These epidemics must be a catalyst around which dramatic and positive social change can be forged, in parallel with, and indeed affected by and affecting, the other turbulent changes which have come with our new democracy.

For many years, in the years of the political struggle and immediately after 1994, there has been intellectual ferment in South Africa, involving the engagement and curiosity of all but a few academics. Commitment to research, informed by an intellectual and political sophistication, has been the hallmark of politics and ideology in South Africa, yet this has been starkly absent in responses to HIV and AIDS.

As Edward Said reminds us, prominent intellectuals are always in a symbolic relationship with their time – in the public consciousness they represent a force which can be mobilised on behalf of an ongoing struggle or embattled community, for example people living with HIV, orphans or marginalised women. To this very important task of representing the collective suffering (the impact of infection with HIV, the toll of death from AIDS-related conditions, the social stigma) and testifying to their travails, there must be added something else, the task of universalising the crisis (AIDS affects the whole society, not just designated and singledout groups), the task of giving greater human scope to what a particular group, race or nation suffers (the reality

The exact effects of our combined intellectual neglect

of living in the epicentre of the epidemic) and the task

and denial of the ways in which our society deals with

of associating that experience with the sufferings, and

these epidemics, remain to be seen. The consequence of

indeed life aspirations, of others (recognising now that

our failure as academics to create new models of expla-

there can be no academic work that ignores AIDS).

nation and understanding, and new ways of seeing, remains one of the most searing indictments of our roles as

In times of crisis critical intellectuals become more im-

academics, theorists and researchers.

portant. Intellectuals are able to think of ways to shape


responses, to understand and explain social events, and

failed in our role as thinkers, social commentators and

to think about the relationship between theory and

problem solvers. We have also treated the communities

practice. The role of intellectuals is to think about ways

and ‘the people’ in simplistic and patronising ways by

to transform society, to develop new patterns of mean-

thinking that they cannot engage in these kinds of de-

ing and association, and to contemplate new social and

bates. At times we have essentialised their ways, tradi-

political formations.

tions, cultures and beliefs, afraid or unwilling to challenge them or to engage with aspects which are problematic.

The response of a university to the crises of HIV and AIDS needs to be grounded in intellectual debate and activity.

Tertiary institutions need to develop in their students criti-

Students attending tertiary institutions do so because

cal minds that constantly challenge the taken-for-granted.

they are keen to study further, and because they are

We need ’intellectual activists‘ who will utilise intellectual

capable of sophisticated thought, grappling with diffi-

curiosity, looking for hidden agendas, intriguing patterns

cult issues and seeking new solutions. They are the future

and inter-related forces, and constantly asking difficult

leaders of society, whether through their places of work,

questions. We need vision, optimism and honesty. The HIV

their political or economic development, or through their

and AIDS epidemics have highlighted how many people

commitment to social change through community-based

inhabit areas of dishonesty, unable to discuss their sexual

work and work in social, economic and political devel-

experiences, unable to understand the sexuality of young


people and in denial about sexual lives and identities which do not fit into neat pre-determined formulas.

This work is crucial in a region with such entrenched epidemics. In part, we have failed to stem these epidemics

HIV and AIDS are in many ways a reflection of our society:

because we have failed to understand them. We have

a reflection not just of sexual patterns of behaviour but

oversimplified very complex issues and formulated re-

a reflection of our failure, intellectually, to understand

sponses that are too simple for the complexity of the

the societies in which we live because we tend to cling

problem. We have often been caught up in an uncritical

to and defend what we know. We fear the challenge of

populism – in attempts to serve ‘the people’ we have

opening debates on race, gender, class and culture. We

failed because we have not applied academic rigour

acquiesce in the face of authority. We defend lies and

and knowledge to the problems and so we have often

corruption. We refuse to confront difficult issues. We


blame others and we are cautious about stepping ’out-

Third Degree reflects on tertiary institutions as the third

side’ and being the voices that challenge the status quo,

educational tier, the fact that institutions are often given

orthodoxy and state policy.

‘the third degree’ about their HIV and AIDS responses, and their needs to be autonomous and critical. This AIDS

In the tertiary context there is a safe and privileged space

Review acknowledges that the tertiary sector plays a crucial

to create new ideas and to ask questions, questions about

role in responses to HIV and AIDS, but also that these

how a university mirrors society; questions about racism

responses need to be challenging, critical, controversial

and class dispensation; questions about how universities

and informed.

feed into negative images of culture, and notions of stigma, privilege, gender and disability. Crucially, to what extent do students and staff with HIV have to hide their status, or is the university a place where someone can feel supported by the whole institution and its members? To conclude, dealing with HIV and AIDS in the tertiary sector is about dealing with ideas, vision, reflection, hope and possibility. This AIDS Review offers reflections on tertiary responses.

The images for this Review reflect artworks from the collections of several South Africa tertiary institutions. The institutions and many of the artists gave permission for their works to be published in this AIDS Review and we would like to acknowledge the support of the sector and the following artists: Bonita Alice, Willem Boshoff, Andries Botha, David Brown, Arend Eloff, Thomas Kubayi, Noria Mabasa, Walter Oltman, Andre Otto, Azwifarwi Ragimana, Anton Smit, Angus Taylor, Jan van der Merwe and Gavin Young.

Cal Volks examines the history of the HEAIDS-supported response and asks critical questions about the way in which that response tends to homogenise institutions and expects


conformity and compliance. Mary Crewe offers ideas about the role of the sector in offering a critical response to HIV

Cal Volks is the director of the HIV/AIDS Co-ordination Unit

and AIDS. Pierre Brouard looks at how institutional in-

at the University of Cape Town. She has a background in

tegrity, or the lack of it, can influence responses to HIV

health promotion and management and holds an MA de-

and AIDS. Lebo Moletsane examines the role of culture

gree from Rhodes University. Cal has worked in HIV/AIDS

and cultural nostalgia in peer education, and Sylvia Tamale

prevention, education and management for the past 20

discusses a gender-based response in a law faculty.



Mary Crewe is the director of the Centre for the Study of

Sylvia Tamale is an associate professor of law at Makerere

AIDS at the University of Pretoria. Starting from the early

University (Uganda) and founder of the Law, Gender and

1990s, she was a founder member and co-chair of NACOSA

Sexuality Research Project in the same institution.

and the AIDS Consortium, and subsequently became the chair of the National Department of Education and Health Committee for HIV/AIDS education in schools. She works


regularly with various UN agencies such as UNAIDS, UNICEF and UNESCO, has been a planning member of a number of

2000 – To the edge by Hein Marais

local and international AIDS conferences, and sits on many

2001 – Who cares? by Tim Trengove Jones

NGO boards. She has links with local, regional and inter-

2002 – Whose right? by Chantal Kissoon, Mary

national tertiary institutions, has published a book on AIDS and authored many articles.

Caesar and Tashia Jithoo 2003 – (Over) extended by Vanessa Barolsky 2004 – (Un) Real by Kgamadi Kometsi

Pierre Brouard is the deputy director of the Centre for the Study of AIDS at the University of Pretoria and is a registered clinical psychologist. He has worked in HIV since the mid 1980s and at the Centre for ten years. His interests in-

2005 – What’s cooking? by Jimmy Pieterse and Barry van Wyk 2005 – Buckling by Hein Marais (an extraordinary Review)

clude sexualities, gender, human rights, stigma, govern-

2006 – Bodies count by Jonathan D. Jansen

ance, leadership, accountability, structural drivers of HIV,

2007 – Stigma(ta): Re-exploring HIV-related stigma

prevention, and psychosocial and care issues.

by Patrick M. Eba 2008 – Balancing acts by Carmel Rickard

Relebohile Moletsane is a professor and the John Langali-

2009 – Magic by Fraser G. McNeil and Isak Niehaus

balele Dube Chair in Rural Education in the Faculty of

2011 – (B)order(s) by Vasu Reddy

Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her areas

2012 – Third degree by Cal Volks, Pierre Brouard,

of practice include rural education and development,

Mary Crewe, Relebohile Moletsane and Sylvia

curriculum studies and gender and education, including

Tamale (an extraordinary Review)

gender-based violence and its links to HIV and AIDS,

2012 – Off label by Jonathan Stadler

stigma and body politics.


Angus Taylor, Three granite figures (one of three), 2008. Belfast granite and metal. Collection of University of Pretoria. Photo: EYEscape.


HIV/AIDS and higher education: Are we asking the correct questions? Cal Volks


One response has been a continued attempt between 1999 and 2012 to create broad policy frameworks nation-

For the past 12 years, there has been a growing recognition

ally. While there was a place for policy frameworks and

of the role, globally, and particularly in Southern Africa,

there is room for updating them, HEIs should now focus on

that universities should play in the struggle against HIV

critically analysing the obstacles to policy implementation

and AIDS. “[Their] role as opinion-formers within society,

and separate areas of HIV intervention at HEIs, define the

their pivotal position in the creation and dissemination

problems accordingly and look for achievable ways to over-

of knowledge (and research) and their contribution to

come these obstacles. The institutional response to HIV/

their nations’ human resource capacity marks them out as

AIDS needs to be sophisticated, acknowledging the con-

an essential site for the establishment of national, regional

straints (e.g. funding, personnel, and access to staff and

and global responses to the scourge of HIV/AIDS.”1

students) and heterogeneity within and between institutions. The ‘call to action’ now is a call for detailed reflective

Over the years there have been several ‘calls to action’

analysis to achieve specific implementation plans that are

for higher education Institutions (HEIs) to develop an ap-

tailored to individual institutions, sufficiently recognising

propriate response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, both from

organisational heterogeneity within tertiary institutions.

departments within these institutions and externally by HEI networking organisations, development agencies and government bodies. Initial mobilisation led to funding for institution-specific HIV policies and programmes. But as the HEIs have tried to implement their policies, obstacles have become apparent. Further funding and focus is required.

HEIs, like other organisations, need to analyse the effectiveness of their policies. However, this is a relatively recent development for HEIs: … the orientation of tertiary institutions is outward looking. Research, community service, and – to a lesser extent – teaching are all externally


focused activities. Consequently, there is little in solutions as might have been hoped for, it is necessary the institutional culture of universities and other to draw on the history of South African HEIs’ response to tertiary institutions that encourages, or even faciliHIV/AIDS. tates, analysis or constructive critique of the institution itself. Any assessment of institutional responses to the threat of HIV/AIDS must therefore be cast The initial response by HEIs as a sector to the HIV/AIDS against this backdrop. With the emergence of pandemic was relatively slow. Martin and Alexander (2001), strategic planning over the past decade as a funin their essay on HIV/AIDS in South Africa’s HEIs, commentdamental tool for institutional development and management (Ekong & Plante 1996, Hayward & ed that “as with many other institutions (in South Africa) Ncayiyana 2003), internal resistance to institutional … the universities and technikons responded at tortoiseassessment has begun to erode. Tertiary institutions like speed … (with the exception of) the University of Cape are increasingly obliged to take stock of their performance, and to address the source of identified Town, which adopted a policy in 1993 that focused on the shortcomings. At the same time, perhaps rights and responsibilities of staff and stunot coincidentally, higher education man- Perhaps it was a failure dents, raised awareness and implemented agement has emerged as a new discipline to realise how or why for graduate study, fostering research on education and support programmes … (and) HIV/AIDS was relevant this topic by both students and academic the University of Stellenbosch, which introto HEIs that led to the staff. As a result, in-house issues, such as duced a more limited policy at the same time, learning performance, student financing, delayed response. [South African] universities did not respond budget effectiveness, graduate performance in the labour market, and many others have until 1999.” now become legitimate topics for academic inquiry … One topic, however, remains largely outside the Perhaps it was a failure to realise how or why HIV/AIDS was scope of concern in many tertiary institutions. That 2 topic is HIV/AIDS.” relevant to HEIs that led to the delayed response. Commenting on the initial failure of HEIs to respond to the HIV/ AIDS pandemic, the director of the Centre for the Study of


AIDS at the University of Pretoria, Mary Crewe (2000), noted that “… like business, despite the projections and

In order to demonstrate that national endeavors have

the warnings, [universities] did not until very recently

resulted in broad HIV/AIDS policy efforts and activities

imagine that AIDS was an issue that they needed to take

rather than sufficiently nuanced analysis, articulation and

seriously … [there are] many people in universities who


believe that the sexual behaviour of their students, their

universities in Africa. The case studies were summarised

colleagues and possibly even themselves is not relevant to

in a report by Kelly (2001) of the University of Zambia

the university role in preparing the next generation of law-

entitled Challenging the Challenger: Understanding and

yers, teachers, doctors, scientists, farmers and priests.”

Expanding the Response of Universities in Africa to HIV/


AIDS. Kelly commented on the slow response of HEIs themThere was global attention from external agencies on the

selves, stating, “The most striking feature of the university

impact of HIV/AIDS on HEIs between 1999 and 2000. In

response to HIV/AIDS is what can only be described as the

1999 the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)

awe-inspiring silence that surrounds the disease at institu-

organised jointly with the University of Natal a symposium

tional, academic and personal levels … Both individuals

entitled The Social Demographic Impact of HIV/AIDS:

and institutions conduct themselves as if the disease did not

Commonwealth Universities Respond. The ACU Lusaka report (2001) identified the following barriers to HEIs developing an appropriate response:

The most striking feature of the university response to HIV/ AIDS is what can only be described as the awe-inspiring silence that surrounds the

• L ack of high-level commitment • Lack of necessary structures for implementation

disease at institutional, academic and personal levels.

• Lack of empirical evidence of the scope and scale of the problem

exist.” This initial failure to respond was despite evidence from the case-studies suggesting that the university in Africa was a high-risk institution for the transmission of HIV.

In 2001, a workshop was held that was attended by senior representatives from

ten universities in Southern and Eastern Africa. “The workshop participants unanimously agreed that in the crisis

• Lack of resources (human and financial)

situation arising from HIV/AIDS universities … must con-

• Lack of buy-in from the campus community

tribute effectively to preventing the further spread of the

• Limited access to the academic curriculum.

epidemic and in managing its impacts … both within their


own institutions and within the society they serve.”5 The In 2001, the Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE)

participating universities indicated that they attached

of the Association for the Development of Education in

‘the highest priority’ to developing an appropriate in-

Africa (ADEA), a World Bank initiative, commissioned

stitutional response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic:

case studies on the impact of HIV/AIDS on individual


As responsible educators and researchers in their respective communities they recognised their responsibility to commit their intellectual resources and energies to reducing the spread of HIV infection, caring for the infected and affected, and providing support. They indicated their intention to develop policies and management structures that would take adequate account of HIV/AIDS; to mainstream HIV/AIDS perspectives into the professional training of all students at all levels; to engage in dialogue and outreach activities in their AIDS-affected communities and societies.6

• Many interventions operated in a once-off manner or defined HIV/AIDS solely as a health issue. Often responsibility for coordinating a response was delegated to a person or department which also had many existing responsibilities. • Networks and partnerships were poorly developed and maintained and many institutions worked in isolation. • Various issues, including rape, needed to be addressed more effectively. • Monitoring and evaluation of programmes needed to

Each of these identified barriers required specific analysis regarding what plan of action might remedy the situation and then a search for solutions in order to move forward.

be improved.

Many institutions focused too heavily on policy to the exclusion

• Most institutions lacked the financial, human, material and intellectual resources to handle the epidemic effectively.7

of implementation. Also in 2001, the South African Vice Chan-

At the 2003 Conference of Rectors, Vice Chan-

cellors’ Association (SAUVCA) looked at South African HEI

cellors and Presidents (COREVIP), the African Association of

responses to HIV/AIDS and issued a report. Key findings

Universities (AAU) convened a meeting on Higher Edu-


cation Institutions and HIV/AIDS:

• Responses from the 21 universities surveyed were uneven and ad hoc. • The political climate surrounding HIV/AIDS was detrimental to the universities’ efforts. • M any institutions focused too heavily on policy to the exclusion of implementation [Emphasis mine].


From the discussion it was apparent that a number of universities, mostly Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, have institutional HIV/ AIDS policies in place [Emphasis mine]. A number of other institutions have initiated peer education, awareness campaigns, and condom distribution … It was generally agreed that despite these efforts, a lot more was needed from the universities to address HIV/AIDS …8

Following on from the SAUVCA 2000 research,9 where the

individual grants were awarded to enable institutions

recommendations were to develop a sector-wide response

to contribute funding to their own priority areas.

and to build capacity at national and institutional levels, a funding proposal was sent to the UK Department for

In 2002, Development Co-operation Ireland became a joint

International Development (DfID) to establish and build

funder, and working groups were established for peer

capacity to manage the impact at national and institu-

education, curriculum integration, and voluntary testing

tional levels.10 Approximately one million pounds was

and counselling. HEAIDS programme documentation states,

awarded between 2002 and 2005 and Higher Education

“At its inception, the HEAIDS programme was conscious

Against AIDS (HEAIDS) was established as “a nationally co-

of the need to respect a strong tradition of institutional

ordinated large-scale effort to develop and strengthen

autonomy in South Africa. It was neither appropriate nor

the capacity, systems and structures of all HEIs to prevent,

feasible to expect 36 widely disparate institutions to follow

manage, and mitigate the causes, challenges and consequences of HIV/AIDS in the sub-sector.”11 A partnership was established between the South African Department of Education, DfID, SAUVCA and the Committee of Technikon Principals.

At its inception, the HEAIDS programme was conscious of the need to respect a strong tradition of institutional autonomy in South Africa.

exactly the same template and achieve the same outputs … HEAIDS promoted the option of designing responses to HIV/AIDS that were specific to each institution but located within the broader framework. Flexibility and appropriateness were the

key principles.”12 The individual institutional grants were This philosophy resulted in different institutions being

approved and ranged from R150 000 to R350 000 (US$15 000

given individual institutional grants and a portion of fund-

to US$35 000) per institution.

ing allocated to national projects, including for working groups (regarding peer education and HIV testing) and

In 2002, HEAIDS commissioned an audit to assess “the

funds for an HIV audit. Despite controversy about the fact

range of services, activities and interventions in each of the

that different institutions were given varying grants based

35 Higher Education Institutions in South Africa against the

on National Department of Education subsidies, and the

programme framework and its indicators”.13 Important

number of previously disadvantaged students being

findings included:

served at the HEI, there was a general satisfaction that


The HIV Stigma Project: Helen Aadnesgaard, Emily Allan, Kirsten Arendse, Michelle Aucamp, Kylie Ballantine, Frances Black, Paris Brummer; Fountain (installation), 2012. Water, glass jars, self-adhesive labels, ink. Photo: Paris Brummer. UCT students filled glass jars with water and arranged them in a series of circles. Each jar was labeled with name of an acquaintance within the group members’ social circles. A single smashed jar was placed in the centre of the artwork. The work attempts to visualise how stigma is experienced in social circles.


• A large number of HEIs had created a policy [Emphasis mine].

from management and human resources had received training and even fewer reported that union members

• Less than half of the HEIs had an HIV centre at their institution. Fourteen (out of 35) that did not have one

had received training. • Very few respondents believed there were sufficient financial and staff resources to offer onsite HIV/AIDS

did see the need for one. • Management of institutions’ HIV/AIDS response rested


mainly with institutional HIV/AIDS officers [known as

• Few policies contained clauses relating to inclusion of

IOs] who had to be appointed to manage individual

HIV/AIDS in the curriculum. Only one third of the insti-

DfID grants. “Unfortunately, many IOs also [held] other

tutions appear to have established a policy for infusing

positions, or [had] other duties and responsibilities, that

HIV/AIDS into the curriculum. Vice chancellors and insti-

compete[d] with their time and energy … In addition

tutional officers were asked to rank the most important programme components for future HEAIDS

many [were] not employed on a permanent basis, and 10 of these work[ed] only part time on the programme.” • A SWOT analysis of the institutions’ capacity to implement the programme revealed

Few policies contained

focus and the results showed overwhelming

clauses relating to

consensus for the first priority being integrat-

inclusion of HIV/AIDS in

ing HIV into the curriculum, followed by

the curriculum.

prevention and support services. Very few

that insufficient committed funding, a lack of human resources and a lack of strategic planning and coordination were commonly mentioned as weaknesses.

lecturers had received capacity building to enable teaching on HIV-related materials. • [On a positive note] [m]ost HEIs distributed condoms. Some 26 had established voluntary counselling and test-

• Half of the HEIs had additional resources allocated to

ing (VCT) services. Many offered treatment of sexually

HIV/AIDS planning and activities (other than those of-

transmitted infections. Many offered peer education

fered by DfID/HEAIDS). However, less than half reported

programmes for students. Many reported that they

that HIV/AIDS featured in their current HEI plan.

offered treatment, care and support services to staff

• O nly nine HEIs had staff workplace programmes

and students either on site, off site or both. Most HEIs

focusing more on information than treatment, al-

had on-site clinic or health services.14

though ten reported their programmes were being developed. Only half indicated that representatives


From the results of the audit, it is clear that what was re-

would remain a barrier articulated in an audit with too

quired following the period between 1999 and 2003 was

broad a brushstroke for ‘lack of curriculum integration’

a consolidation of HIV/AIDS projects that were already in

in general.

place and activities to take these projects to an improved level in specifically defined areas. Using HIV/AIDS curricu-

Similarly, where peer education programmes were already

lum integration as an example, the discourse needed to

in place, specific monitoring goals could have been drawn

shift from whether HIV/AIDS should be included in curricu-

up that assessed the outcome of programmes in terms of

la in general to the specifics of a curriculum response.

contextual issues such as gender norms and HIV stigma. Where HIV testing programmes were already in place,

In 2012, we should understand results from analyses of different curriculum models relevant to differentiated disciplines. We need to move on to explore what types of curriculum models work best for whom in what setting, and what are the barriers to implementing curriculum programmes that have been evaluated as being effective. For example, if it was

what could have been assessed was the impact of such

We need to move on to explore what types of curriculum models work best for whom in what setting, and what are the barriers to implementing curriculum programmes that have been evaluated as being effective.

testing on prevention behaviour. With regards to workplace programmes, if nine were in place, with ten on the way, this could have been a key time to articulate what was working in terms of prevention, and assess and articulate the barriers to implementation.

articulated that there was difficulty in integrating HIV

By the end of 2005, HEAIDS had secured a partnership with

and AIDS into Engineering curricula due to Engineering

the European Union and the Department of Education

Departments working according to specifications from

for €20 million to support the HEAIDS Programme for

national or global engineering standards boards, and there

the period 2006 to 2007, for the set-up phase to end in

being insufficient time to cover core curricula with suf-

January 2008. (The date was ultimately re-negotiated to

ficient student through-put for local government funding

31 March 2010 for implementation.) Grants to a total value

formulae, then discussions could be held with Engineering

of R59,3 million were awarded to 21 institutions. It was

Boards to include relevant and appropriate HIV/AIDS

my impression again that institutions were pleased about

criteria, e.g. in health and safety courses, courses about staff

having individual grants because they could rank their

management, etc. Without adequate assessment this issue

priorities best. The remainder of the funding was spent


on national co-ordination projects for which tenders were

document research data in a standardised manner (To

put out. In a communication dated 22 January 2008, HEAIDS

the best of my knowledge this did not materialise.)

communicated the following regarding national tender

• The mapping and analysis of research data to make

projects that had been awarded:

recommendations on relevance and identified gaps (To the best of my knowledge, this did not materialise.)

• Development of an HIV policy framework for the sector with support to institutions in developing/refining institutional policies and implementation plans (R4.5 million)

• Good practice: HIV prevention strategies for HEIs in South Africa • A survey investigating the competency of graduates in relation to HIV in the workplace.16

• Design and development of a workplace programme for institutional staff (R4.3 million)

By the end of 2010 the following HEAIDS reports (laid out

• Development of funding models to ensure sustained intervention (R3 million) • Exploration and establishment of the roles of educators (including academic staff) in mitigating the impact of HIV (R3.2 million)

in the original communication about HEAIDS national

Institutions were pleased about having individual grants because they could

endeavours in 2008) were available:

• A report on the roles of educators (in-

rank their priorities best.

• Piloting of an HIV module at 23 teacher education faculties (R11.3 million) • Undertaking a sero-prevalence research study, KAPB and risk assessment of the higher-education sector (R26 million).


cluding academic staff and school teachers) in mitigating the impact of HIV

• The results of the sero-prevalence research study, KAPB and risk assessment of the HE sector • The development of an HIV policy and monitoring and evaluation framework for the sector • A sector HIV/AIDS needs/gap report (as to how the institutional policy differed from the national policy

The same communication stated that HEAIDS had “further successfully contracted the following areas of work”:

and framework) • The design of a workplace programme for institutional staff

• A sector HIV/AIDS needs/gap synthesis report •

The development of a standardised research data

• The development of funding models to ensure sustained intervention

tool for use by researchers at institutions to collect and


• The piloting of an HIV module at 23 teacher education

how well the principles of “flexibility and appropriateness”18 were adhered to.

faculties • A survey investigating the competency of graduates in relation to HIV in the workplace

Similar comments could be made about the project for

• Good practice: HIV prevention strategies for HEIs in

developing a workplace document which also cost several millions of rands. It was not clear that what work-

South Africa.17

places lacked was a plan. If an analysis had been underAs part of this process, at the end of 2008, a national

taken at each institution and funding used to specifically

policy framework was developed under the direction of

overcome the barriers identified at particular institutions,

HEIADS. In addition, each institution received an individual

such an intervention may have been more useful.

institution needs/gap synthesis report, but only in so far as this pertained to individual institutional policies’ departure from the national framework with regard to policy, strategic plan, and monitoring and evaluation plans. With the 2004 audit having demonstrated that most higher education institutions already had a general HIV/

A useful endeavour may have been a survey regarding barriers to implementation of institutional policies within specific areas and specific problem solving around those barriers per institution.

In 2010, my staff and I conducted a rapid appraisal of higher education institutions’ use of national EU HEAIDS documents. There are obvious limitations to using this method since there may have been bias in the responses of institutional officers (IOs). Of the IOs who responded many had

AIDS policy, it is debatable whether it was necessary to

not used the policy framework or gap analyses given to

spend approximately R4.5 million on the development of

them. One participant articulated a general sentiment

an HIV policy framework for institutions to refine insti-

when she said that because of awarding national tenders

tutional policies and implementation plans. As mentioned,

to people who did not work in higher education and HIV

a useful endeavour may have been a survey regarding

and AIDS, a significant portion of time was spent by IOs in

barriers to implementation of institutional policies within

giving those awarded the tenders information that some

specific areas and specific problem solving around those

HEIs had been working on for years, and then correcting

barriers per institution. Institutions were only sent their

incorrect information in draft reports. This meant that

own gap analyses and it was impossible to assess overall

IOs did not have the time or inclination to re-read final


reports and to implement recommendations. Feedback

geographically not far from each other were unable to

was given that some of the report’s recommendations were

share data, nor to work out why there were differences

out of touch (e.g. in terms of recommendations that

between their sero-prevalence.

curriculum interventions should be funded by roughly R14 million per institution when some institutions were

What was positive about the national sero-prevalence

looking for national support of the view that HIV/AIDS

survey report was that a number of recommendations

curriculum integration should be taking place within

were made which broke down HIV/AIDS areas and articu-

roughly existing curriculum budgets).

lated them in sufficiently complex ways that suggested solutions. The report stated that the epidemic was hetero-

A comment made was that one report was written by an

geneous within and between institutions, so that no-one-

individual whose first language was not English. The IO was

size-fits-all solution could be crafted nationally. It pointed

asked to comment on the report content, but felt that he could not do so without first correcting the English, so he felt the report was not ultimately useful. Frustration was also reported with the gap analysis that articulated institutional policy goals on paper

It articulated that there was insufficient proof that large-scale testing drives affected HIV prevention.

out high-risk behaviour groups required targeting even within low prevalence institutions (such as men who have sex with men) and that education and communication needed to segment the audience.

without a sophisticated unpacking of the barriers to differ-

It articulated that there was insufficient proof that large-

ent HIV/AIDS implementation areas. Institutions raised

scale testing drives affected HIV prevention. Hence HIV

concerns around the implementation of the methodology

testing drives could not be the sole HIV prevention strate-

of the sero-prevalence survey by sub-contracted teams.

gy, even if relevant at country level. Testing drives were particularly not useful in low prevalence settings, although

In 2010 each higher education institution received an HIV

obviously more useful in high prevalence settings if fol-

sero-prevalence report which was not made available

lowed up by immediate treatment. The concern was

publicly (although a national report was made publicly

expressed that students might test and re-test while not

available). It was left up to each institution to make pub-

using condoms. (Just over half of students reported con-

licly available its own sero-prevalence data. This repre-

sistent condom use.) The report emphasised that what

sented a lost opportunity because institutions situated

was needed was not only treating HIV as a health issue


but also having a sharp focus on contextual issues such as

made between 1999 and 2012. It is not clear if institutions

poverty, diversity management, gender issues and HIV

have the resources and political will to implement their

stigma. The report demonstrated that the highest levels

policies so that they are aligned to the NSP.

of HIV infection were among administrative staff in the lowest pay classes at HEIs, and that there was an urgent

Critical steps forward would be articulating why HIV poli-

need for workplace programmes.

cies are or are not being implemented as effectively as possible in different areas such as the curriculum (and within

There has been no national funding available to HEIs to

different departments within different faculties), defining

implement these findings since the EU funding phase

the role of workplace programmes, conducting research

ended, even though the findings made considerable de-

into prevention behaviour among students, and establish-

mands of institutions.

ing social responsiveness programmes with communities

In 2011 and 2012, HEAIDS partnered with the Independent Medicines Board of South Africa (IMBSA), which funded mass HIV testing drives at most campuses. At the time of writing this, HEAIDS is due to

If HEAIDS programmes are to be improved, it is important that higher education institutions are able develop in these directions.

release an updated policy framework at the end of 2012

in an institution-specific, sophisticated way. If HEAIDS programmes are to be improved, it is important that higher education institutions are able to develop in these directions. We need to ask the correct questions and seek to answer

them meaningfully.

aligned to the South African National Strategic Plan (NSP). It is critical for HEIs to align with the NSP and HEI partici-

We hope that this collection of essays takes this process

pation in the NSP is welcomed. However, if institutions

somewhat further.

have not sufficiently engaged with how to break down the concepts of the NSP into programmes (e.g. engaging with gender) or do not have the resources to implement pro-


grammes that engage with the concepts, updating it to include alignment with the NSP may still not achieve

1 The Social, Demographic and Development Impact of

measurable programme goals in different HIV/AIDS areas

AIDS: Commonwealth universities respond. Summary

at higher education institutions, and that reflect progress

documents. (1999). 2.


2 Saint, W. (2004). Crafting Institutional responses to HIV/

12 SAUVCA HEAIDS. (2005). Turning the Tide: A strategic

AIDS: Guidelines and resources for tertiary insti-

response to HIV and AIDS in South African higher

tutions in sub-Saharan Africa. Africa Region Human

education, 27.

Development Sector World Bank Working Paper Series, 4. 3 Crewe, M. (2000). A University Response to HIV/AIDS. AIDS Analysis Africa, 10(5): 11-12. 4 Katjavivi, P. & Otaala, B. (2003). African higher education institutions responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic: Power Point presentation made to the AAU Conference of Rectors, Vice Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREVIP), Mauritius, March 17-21.

13 HEAIDS. (2004). HIV and AIDS Audit: Interventions in South African higher education, iv. 14 Ibid, iv-xv. 15 HEAIDS. (2008). Circular to all VCs No: 3/2008. Reference: 16/1-3/2008. 22 January. 16 HEAIDS. (2008). Circular to all VCs No: 3/2008. Reference: 16/1-3/2008. 22 January. 17 HEAIDS. (2008). Circular to all VCs No: 3/2008. Reference: 16/1-3/2008. 22 January.

5 Ibid.

18 SAUVCA HEAIDS. (2005). Turning the Tide: A strategic

6 Ibid.

response to HIV and AIDS in South African higher

7 SAUVCA (2000) Institutionalizing the Response to HIV/

education, 27.

AIDS in the South African University Sector: A SAUVCA analysis. 8 Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE) of the


Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) (2006). Higher Education Institutions in Africa

Crewe, M. (2000). A University Response to HIV/AIDS.

Responding to HIV/AIDS, 36.

AIDS Analysis Africa, 10(5): 11-12.

9 SAUVCA HEAIDS. (2005). Turning the Tide: A strategic response to HIV and AIDS in South African higher

HEAIDS. (2008). Circular to all VCs No: 3/2008.

education, 21-31.

Reference: 16/1-3/2008. 22 January; SAUVCA HEAIDS.

10 Ibid.

(2005). Turning the Tide: A strategic response to HIV

11 Available at:

and AIDS in South African higher education.


HEAIDS. (2004). HIV and AIDS audit: Interventions in South African higher education.

Katjavivi, P. & Otaala, B. (2003). African higher education institutions responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic: PowerPoint presentation made to the AAU Conference of Rectors, Vice Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREVIP), Mauritius, March 17-21.

Kelley, M.J. (2002). An education coalition against HIV/ AIDS. Paper presented at the National Conference on HIV/AIDS and the Education Sector. Lusaka: University of Zambia.

Kelley, M.J. (2001). Challenging the Challenger: Understanding and expanding the responses of universities in Africa to HIV/AIDS. Working Group on Higher Education, Association for the Development of Education in Africa, March.

Summary documents. (1999). The Social, Demographic and Development Impact of AIDS: Commonwealth universities respond. 8-9 November.

Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE) of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). (2006). Higher Education Institutions in Africa Responding to HIV/AIDS.


LEFT: Herman Wald, The unknown miner, c 1958, cast 2011. Bronze. Collection of University of Witwatersrand. Photo: Sally Gaule.

RIGHT: Neels Coetzee, Skull series, 1986. Bronze. Collection of University of Cape Town. Photo: Katherine Traut.


Gavin Younge, From Hoerikwagga, 1984. Steel, zinc and enamel paint. Collection of University of Cape Town. Photo: Katherine Traut.


Hypocrisy, HIV and higher education: An ‘institutional integrity’ hypothesis Pierre Brouard


and informal centres through which school children and out-of-school youth could be engaged for spiritual growth

As HIV peaks in South Africa, calls continue for moral

and development by means of practical programmes.

regeneration as a core response to social challenges in

These could include spiritual music, indigenous games,

general, and to our HIV epidemics in particular.

cultural and other creative activities”.

On 23 February 2011, sixteen women from several Cape

South Africa has a Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM),

Town townships were reported to have presented at the

which had its roots in a meeting between former president

office of the chief whip of the African National Congress

Nelson Mandela and religious leaders in 1997. The current

(ANC) in Parliament, Dr Mathole Motshekga, to appeal for

South African president, Jacob Zuma, drove the MRM’s

the intercession and intervention of the ANC in the deep-

establishment from 2002/3. The movement set up struc-

ening ‘moral degeneration’ in the townships of Cape

tures in all nine provinces, initially focused on marketing

Town.1 The women referred specifically to reports of chil-

and awareness strategies. It then began to promote “posi-

dren taking drugs and visiting shebeens and taverns.

tive values and keep audits of moral regeneration pro-

Writing in ANC Today in March 2011, Dr Motshekga, per-

grammes”.3 In 2008 there was a focus on the adoption of

haps partly at least in response to these concerned mothers,

the Charter of Positive Values, together with community

said, “There is an urgent and great need to occupy chil-

dialogue, endorsements of its work, and marketing.


dren and the youth after school and over the weekends through establishment of cultural centres in townships


Writing in Business Report in March 2010, Nawaal Dreyer

mature citizens, these societal institutions should work

noted that the MRM had almost nothing to show for the

together for the provision of moral education”.5

R22 million that government had spent on it. Dreyer wrote “Parliament’s Arts and Culture portfolio committee heard

A Bill of Responsibilities for the Youth of South Africa was

on Wednesday that in the body’s seven years of existence,

launched by the Department of Education in 2011. The

its books had never been audited and that even the

Bill exhorts young people to respect a range of rights in

Department of Arts and Culture – which is meant to over-

South Africa. Notable for its absence in the call for young

see the initiative – is not sure what impact it has had on

people to respect the right to equality is any mention of

moral issues in South Africa.”4

sexual orientation. And Lead SA, an initiative including The Star, Pretoria News, Radio 702 and Radio 94.7, states:

Clearly, asking the populace to become more moral is no simple, or cheap, matter. This has not prevented faith leaders, politicians, cultural guardians and educators from urging South Africans to become more moral – to address, among others, teenage pregnancy, multiple

“You can change the world. Lead SA is a personal call

Clearly, asking the populace to become more moral is no simple, or cheap, matter.

sexual partnering, drug and alcohol abuse, school truancy,

to every person to make a difference. You choose how. We all have a responsibility to make the world a better place. It could be as simple as smiling at a stranger or as big as fighting to further the rights entrenched in

our Constitution. Each act makes a difference.”6

HIV, gangsterism and sex work. While some of those making such pleas for greater public morality recognise

The calls for moral regeneration are predicated on the

the deeply historical, social and structural roots of these

idea that faced with the onslaught of messaging about

phenomena, most calls for a return to morality pose in-

decency, children, adolescents (and ultimately adults) will

culcation by parents, faith leaders, educators and role

do the right thing and choose, as rational individuals, to

models in values which are based on decency, faith, tradi-

become better persons.

tion, and indeed ubuntu, as the key vehicle for this return. In a review of ‘moral degeneration’ in South African

This essay argues that such approaches, while often

schools for example, Bayaga and Jaysveree assert that

well meaning, are flawed. It seeks to explain why these

“values need to be instilled in learners by parents, teachers,

approaches are defective. Finally, it proposes the con-

the state and the church … in order to produce morally

cept of social or institutional integrity as an alternative


approach – using HIV in the tertiary context to illustrate

As noted above, although non-discrimination on the basis

these ideas.

of sexual orientation is one of the rights entrenched in the South African Bill of Rights, it has been omitted from the suggested bill of responsibilities for young people.


The omission suggests that the morality of same-sex sexuality is contested, even though the South African

My first objection to the concept of moral regeneration

Constitution guarantees equality in terms of sexual orien-

is that morality as a concept is complex and contested.

tation. Sexual orientation clearly poses a problem for the

Morality speaks of a system of behaviour with regard to

bill’s authors.

standards of right or wrong. It is linked to notions of moral standards (of behaviour), moral responsibility (referring to conscience) and moral identity (being capable of right or wrong action).7 But agreement is lacking on what standards can be applied, how responsibility is measured and indeed how we develop, and can justify, our personal moral identities. Our history as a country

When the purveyors of messages on morality themselves do not stand up to close ethical scrutiny, cynicism and disbelief contribute to suspicion about the notion of morality.

When the purveyors of messages on morality themselves do not stand up to close ethical scrutiny, cynicism and disbelief contribute to suspicion about the notion of morality. When fundamentalist preachers are caught in the very secret homosexual acts they decry, and the Catholic Church finds itself accused of cover ups

is replete with anecdotes of the use of religious injunc-

about clergy engaged in paedophilia and abusive be-

tions to support apartheid, and beliefs in the different

haviour, it becomes clear that there is often a large gap

moral capacities of citizens. Morality has been used to

between thought and action.

justify slavery, racism, war, sexism, oppression of sexual minorities, honour killings, female genital mutilation and

In South Africa, it is ironic that the leading light in the

virginity testing. But whose morality is seen as correct?

MRM, President Zuma, has himself been in the spotlight

And which belief in a supreme being or beings is used

for his personal sexual conduct. While his polygamy finds

to justify morality (as such a belief is often regarded as

its roots in his traditional beliefs, protected under the

the primary basis for morality)?

Constitution, the conduct that was revealed in his trial for rape showed perhaps that morality is both deeply


personal and yet at the same time of public interest and

strategy not work – today there is tacit acceptance that

concern. The recent case of a politician, who had exhorted

one should work with and not against the affected – but

young people to abstain from sex and to be faithful, in

it contributed to stigma which easily and quickly attached

order to thwart HIV transmission, and yet was revealed to

itself to others (even to the ‘innocent’) and also to an on-

have been less than faithful to his wife in a public scandal,

going discourse and fantasy around lost or past morality

is instructive. As Minister Fikile Mbalula told a World AIDS

to which society should return.

Day gathering in December 2011, “Idle minds breed evil ideas. We want to keep the youth busy with sport so that

This leads me to my second objection to current moral

there is no time for these evil ideas.”8

approaches: that they are often based on notions of moral panic and anxiety which suggest that sexual abandon is

Furthermore, when calls are made for individuals to be moral (particularly moral regarding sexual conduct, criminality and community ills), in the face of the questionable morality of the state, when its institutions and its economic policies seem not to recognise vast and growing societal inequalities, amid

widespread and novel. HIV has particularly unleashed

Moral approaches are often based on notions of moral panic and anxiety which suggest that sexual abandon is widespread and novel.

concerns about corruption, political infighting and per-

such moral panics – and attempts to control human sexuality (and therefore HIV, given that most HIV transmission occurs through sex). Moral crusades and appeals to our values have dominated, or certainly co-existed with other, more

public-health, approaches.

sonal enrichment, then questions need to be asked about the morality of our various social institutions. More of this

One classic example, which is really an example of morality

later, when I address the question of institutional integrity.

cloaked in public-health rhetoric, is that of abstinence-only sexual health and HIV programmes for young people.

Of course, the history of the HIV epidemic is one which

Many of these were funded by the PEPFAR fund of United

tells a story of how the first affected groups, which were

States President George Bush, which prohibited any HIV

deemed less than moral in their behaviour (gay men, men

prevention programmes for young people other than

who have sex with men, sex workers and intravenous drug

abstinence-only programmes, and did not support any

users), were easily blamed for their infection, marginalised,

work which was linked to termination of pregnancy. This

and excluded from prevention and care. Not only did this

far-reaching funding regimen probably put millions of


young people at risk for HIV and many young women

hegemonic or dominant masculinity and the recognition

at risk for unwanted pregnancy. One report released in

of alternative masculinities (and femininities); a critique

2009 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United

of gender roles; the recognition of the rights of people

States found that teenage pregnancies and the incidence

who are transgendered or intersexed; the recognition of

of syphilis among a generation of American school girls who

female desire and agency in sexual matters; a reclaiming

were urged to avoid sex before marriage had risen sharply.

of pleasure in HIV campaigns, challenging fear-based strategies; a new identity politics where there has emerged

The CDC said that southern states in the US, where there

a tension between identity and practice, as exemplified

was often the greatest emphasis on sexual abstinence and

in the label MSM (men who have sex with men); the view

religion, tended to have the highest rates of teenage

that identities over a lifetime (man, woman, heterosexual,

pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. However, as

homosexual, African) might be fluid, changing and context

scientific analyses of the official policies

Uncertainty, the rise of moral

came to be published, this policy he-

relativism and sweeping socio-

gemony was challenged. Not only were

political changes in the 20th and

young people put at risk by the absti-

21st centuries have induced fear

nence policy, but as Schalet has noted,

and contributed to moral panics.

the abstinence-only-until-marriage para-

driven; an explosion of technology-driven sexual possibilities; sexual activism regarding sex work and other sexual cultures; and clashes between tradition and modernity.

digm, along with the sex-as-risk paradigm, “give us only

Is it surprising that in the light of these unsettling develop-

limited tools to conceptualise and promote positive

ments, many guardians of religion, culture and the status

adolescent sexual development and relationships.�

quo have argued for a return to traditional morality?

Uncertainty, the rise of moral relativism and sweeping

As a third objection to morality-based approaches, I would

socio-political changes in the 20 and 21 centuries have

argue that not only do the developments listed above

induced fear and contributed to moral panics. Some of

provoke anxiety about change, but they also reflect our

these challenges and changes include the rise of gay and

discomfort with human sexuality, informed by a distor-

lesbian rights (including in South Africa the right of gay

tion or dismissal of science and a disregard for history and

men and lesbians to marriage and adoption); challenges

its insights.




to heteronormativity; discourses around alternatives to


Bonita Alice, Standing female nude and Standing male figure, 1988. Cement fondue and oil paint. UNISA Art Collection. Photos: Izelle Jacobs.


In looking back at how sexuality was framed and managed

McLaren concludes his review of the last century by sug-

in the 20th century, McLaren10 suggests four narratives

gesting that our belief that sex has now become a private

which challenge common views that modern sexuality

matter between consenting adults of different back-

is unbridled and unique. Firstly, human sexuality is both

grounds, persuasions or gender variations is a myth. In fact,

constant and changing, and concerns about moral decline

he says, “sex was not a natural act. It was shaped and

have marked each successive generation of the 20th cen-

regulated. Stories played a key role in constructing sexual-

tury. Secondly, certainties about gender roles are under-

ity in the 20th century and one can be confident that in

mined by the fact that in more western societies, there

the 21st century, Western culture will still not have finished

has been an erosion of class and gender differences. As

with accounts of its panics and pleasures”.11

one commentator noted: “The enormous class differentials that once set off the marriage, fertility and mortality patterns of the upper and middle classes, had been gradually diminished.” Thirdly, the unprecedented advance (albeit contested) in the rights of gay and lesbian people, and those with discordant gender identities or alternative gender presenta-

Implied in McLaren’s review is the notion of social and

Human sexuality is both constant and changing, and concerns about moral decline have marked each successive generation of the 20th century.

medical science as a source of new and renewed insights into human sexual conduct, where moral gatekeepers are willing to engage with such science. So Klein,12 for example, has reflected recently how science has exposed a number of myths

tions has created both freedom and resistance, shining a

regarding sexuality which persist. These include myths

light on identity-practice splits, on western versus African

about the dangers of pornography, sex clubs, sexuality

perspectives in understanding human sexuality, and, im-

education for the young and sexual predators on the

portantly, on the idea that sexuality does not occur in a

Internet, and their alleged implications for moral decline.

vacuum, but is shaped by social, cultural, economic and

While research does not support the view that these

political contexts. And fourthly the separation of sex and

phenomena contribute to social and moral decay, and

procreation has led to an emphasis on sexual pleasure as

shows that fears about the phenomena are exaggerated,

a legitimate goal in itself. The mental health benefits of

the view of moral decline persists.

sexual pleasure have been increasingly stressed and indeed a lack of sex, or an absence of sexual desire, is now

An explanation for such moral panic is to suggest, as my

regarded increasingly as unusual and unhealthy.

fourth objection to morality-based approaches, that not


only are we are uncomfortable with sexuality, but we

South Africa is no exception. In April 2012 the Teddy

are uncomfortable with the sexuality of young people,

Bear Clinic and Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child

especially adolescents and students in tertiary contexts.

Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN) applied in the North Gau-

And what is our response? Curtailment, promotion of

teng High Court to declare certain sections of the Sexual

abstinence and fidelity, and withholding of sexual in-

Offences Act of 2007, which deals with consensual sex

formation from the young – in other words, regulation.

(statutory rape) and acts of consensual violation (statutory

The emerging sexuality of young people has always vexed

sexual violation) between children aged 12 to 16 years un-

adults, despite the fact that we know most young people

constitutional.15 The non-profit organisations, supported

begin to experiment sexually in their teenage years,14 in

by the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria,

spite of moral and other injunctions not to do so.

challenged the sections of the Act related to reporting


A review of the literature of anthropology, sociology and cultural studies will show that in most societies, young people experiment with sex in contradiction of the expressed moral codes of their parents, their parents have themselves previously broken the same moral codes and those

Most societies have developed elaborate and coded ways of talking about sex and sexuality as attempts to protect dignity, avoid embarrassment and limit sexual practice.

sexual activities between teenagers and the registration of children’s names on the National Sex Offenders Register if convicted of statutory rape. The Act criminalises consensual sex between children aged 12 to 16 years, and even criminalises activities such as kissing. Any person such as a teacher or counsellor, who does not report such

very same young people have become parents who at-

activities to the police, can be sentenced to prison. The non-

tempted to limit their own children to the moral codes they

profit organisations maintained that the Act could have

themselves did not then, and do not now, honour. And

serious consequences for children, such as denying children

most societies have developed elaborate and coded ways

access to support and health care services when needed

of talking about sex and sexuality as attempts to protect

and humiliating them by exposing them to the criminal

dignity, avoid embarrassment and limit sexual practice.

justice system and the risk of having their names listed in

They have also tried to use the law to limit sexual ex-

the Sex Offenders’ Register. The organisations believed


that rather than criminalising sexual behaviour a less harmful route should be followed by engaging children at a level of dialogue they could understand about


appropriate sexual expression, and increasing the range

My fifth objection to morality-informed approaches to

of sexual education available to them.

HIV and sexuality is that they are based on an individualistic approach to human conduct, especially sexual conduct.

has proposed a new alphabet for a positive

For too long our HIV prevention efforts have been indi-

approach to adolescent sexuality, ABCD. The A refers to

vidualistic and rational in approach, exemplified by the

building autonomy in young people through teaching

ABC campaign. Prevention has been predicated on the

them skills and helping them understand pleasure and

idea that if we appeal to an individual’s intellect, logical

desire, as well as boundaries. The B suggests we should

thinking and good intentions, then they will ‘do the right

help young people build good romantic relationships

thing’, i.e. be moral.



based on mutuality, trust and equality. The C recommends that healthy connections between young people and their parents/caregivers are protective, and the D recognises not only that young people are diverse, but also that the disparities in socio-economic conditions and access to resources need to be addressed in order to empower young people.

In fact we now believe that a web of social and structural

Morality-informed approaches to HIV and sexuality are based on an individualistic approach to human conduct, especially sexual conduct.

factors interacts in complex ways with an individual’s needs, motivations, skills, knowledge and intentions to affect the sexual and other choices that an individual makes. Social factors might be the norms, values, beliefs, attitudes and expectations

of our social milieu which we unconsciously internalise Notwithstanding more progressive approaches, the one

as we grow up and become social actors. Structural factors

constant about human sexuality is that sexual practice

would include access to services; the strength of health

has always been varied, it has always been unsuccessfully

and other systems; legal and policy frameworks which set

regulated, it has been understood and shaped by prevail-

out the responsibilities of the state and other actors; access

ing norms and contexts and, when it strays from the norm,

to education, housing, transport and employment; and

it has always incurred the judgment and wrath of those in

economic policies which include or exclude citizens from

power, whether politicians, prelates, public health experts

reasonable access to economic independence. All of these

or parents.

– sometimes called social drivers – work together to make it more or less possible for an individual or a couple to practise safer sex. We have been, for too long, obsessed with


sex as behaviour (the physical acts we do and the mechanics

moralising about individual conduct. But if we accept that

of protection attached to them) rather than focusing on

individual behaviour is profoundly influenced by the social

sex as practice – the sum of the meanings two individuals

and structural milieu, would our institutions stand up to

bring to their encounter or encounters, in a social context.

the same scrutiny? Is there honesty, sincerity, fairness, ethics, reliability and justice in government, in the corporate world,

A sixth objection to morality-informed approaches is that

in our religious institutions, in our media, and in schools

by focusing on individual morality, we ignore hypocrisy and

and universities?

the lack of integrity in society in general, but in tertiary institutions in particular. So when tertiary institutions fail to transform in terms of race, language and access to


power; do not address gender inequalities and run along


unquestioned patriarchal fault lines; become sites of nepotism, greed and empire building; perpetuate practices in residences which feed into sexual and gender stereotypes; ignore the needs of communities from which they

We ignore hypocrisy and the lack of integrity in society in general, but in tertiary institutions

draw their students and on which students

in particular.

Many students are in late adolescence and early adulthood and this may be accompanied by physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual changes which can be overwhelming. This is a time when young people ex-

practise their emerging skills; and fail to grapple with the

periment with sexual practices and identities – in some

social challenges in the broader society, then it can be ar-

cases this experimentation has already started as students

gued that their appeals to individual (sexual) morality are

bring with them ideas and practices from their social milieu.

a diversionary tactic and represent an ethical failure.

Evidence from formal and informal surveys and work done at campus health services suggests that unprotected sex

I would argue that the concept of integrity has been most

is widespread.17

forcefully applied to individuals. The history of the HIV epidemic reveals to us just how frail we are – silences, secrecies,

Many students report that their conservative beliefs, and

infidelities, temptations, indiscretions are often unveiled

those of their parents and of their institutions, prevent

in the light of an HIV diagnosis. One of the consequences

them from finding out about sex and sexuality, leaving

of this is that we have easily slipped into blaming and

them vulnerable when they are in sexual contexts. For


many students university life provides their first taste of

to have sex, and to have unprotected sex. Most do not

freedom and independence and they cannot always cope

know how to resist these pressures. This is not to deny

with this new-found liberation. Alcohol and drugs are used

that female agency and desire are absent, but simply to

by students for recreation and to cope with the stresses

state that gender norms and fault lines are deeply en-

and strains of life – in some cases this leads to binge drink-


ing. There are reports that some women students face peer pressure to drink – date rape (both alcohol- and drug-

Students are often linked to a wide range of sexual net-

related) is a possible consequence.

works, which may overlap with university and community networks, and which could have varying levels of HIV

Students often display a sense of invulnerability and om-

prevalence. It is known that sex with multiple, concurrent

nipotence, focussing more on future dreams than on pre-

partners (where there is unprotected sex) increase a per-

sent risks. This is compounded, certainly in the more privileged universities, by the belief that because tertiary students are the ‘cream of the crop’, they will not contract HIV, since HIV infection is seen as a disease of poverty, poor education and limited

Students often display a sense of invulnerability and omnipotence, focussing more on future dreams than on present risks.

son’s risk of contracting HIV.

Same sex practice and identity is widely ignored in the tertiary sector. Institutions often struggle to recognise and support student-led lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgen-

access to resources. There is a need, especially for those

dered and intersex (LGBTI) organisations, leaving young

from more humble backgrounds, to fit into a sophisticat-

LGBTI people without resources and information.

ed, brand-conscious culture, and find ready cash to spend. Most young people are financially dependent on others

Residences are often deeply hierarchical. They may per-

and some students struggle financially.

petuate conservative views on sex, sexuality and sexual identity. They may also buttress patriarchal notions of gen-

Some women students may be involved in transactional

der. In addition, they may value conformity over challenge

relationships with older men who buttress their financial

– perpetuating a culture of obedience and subordination

position. These may place women in a position of negotiat-

to higher authority, rather than developing agency and

ing disadvantage – and even in relationships with peers,

adaptive life-skills.

many female students report pressure from male partners


Gavin Younge, Life cycle, 2004. Stainless steel. Collection of Rhodes University. Photo: Sara Garrun.


At some of the less transformed universities, black students

areas which are not always safe, making them vulner-

report widely that there is racism on campuses and in resi-

able to assault and rape; and many stay in overcrowded

dences – and some white students express concerns about

apartments where there may be sex in communal spaces,

the loss of language and culture. These issues suggest

or forced/coerced sex.

that diversity and difference are not being well handled. Students living with HIV may not be sure how fellow students, academics and support staff will cope with HIV dis-


closure. Some universities do not seem to have a thoughtful, conscious and comprehensive strategy to deal with

This essay argues that rather than focus on the personal

issues of race, difference and integration, and even where

morality of students, inviting them to choose rationally to

there are policies they are subject to criticism from all

act in accordance with what is assumed to be a shared


Some students report that because there is considerable prestige attached to being a university student they face overwhelming external and internal pressures to succeed

Students living with HIV may not be sure how fellow students, academics and support staff will cope with HIV disclosure.

and thrive, and to deny vulnerability – leaving them vul-

moral code, universities should revisit their institutional ethos and practice, so that they acknowledge and respond to the realities of student, staff and community contexts and create an institutional culture which has integrity and which models values to

which all can aspire.

nerable to stress and unable to say they are not coping. Many students also do not know where to go for help.

Of course, society as a whole should aspire to integrity

Some students struggle to make the academic transition

but universities, as mirrors of the broader society, and as

from school to university, even when they have done well

places of ideas, practices and norm building, should them-

at school, and they experience stress as a result of this

selves exhibit particular integrity.

difficult shift. Integrity18 comes from the Greek word integra, meaning Where students, especially black students, have difficulty

whole. Integrity could be said to be a guiding principle,

in finding accommodation, there are at least two pos-

affecting all aspect of one’s life. At the individual level, it has

sible consequences: many are forced to live in inner city

been described as part of one’s belief system – influencing


what one does without faltering, no matter how risky

Oregon State University defines its institutional integrity

the decision, no matter how unpopular the decision makes

as one in which “The University accurately represents it-

the person appear to others. It could include sincerity,

self to students, staff, and faculty, and externally to govern-

keeping one’s word and agreements, honesty, truthfulness,

ment and regulatory agencies, accrediting bodies, and

a sense of ethics, fairness and justice.

the public”.20 Its commitment to integrity is reflected in its mission statement which cites truth, accountability and

Universities have long grappled with this concept. Iowa

responsibility as essential values. And it measures and main-

State University in the US, for example, has this to say: “The

tains this integrity through an organisational framework

overall reputation of the institution is of critical impor-

which guides, among others, ethical standards, conflicts of

tance to Iowa State University leaders. Faithful pursuit of

interest, academic freedom and public communication.21

the institutional mission, compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations, and responsiveness to the needs of students, faculty, staff, and other constituents are top priorities of the administration. Academic administrators work closely with faculty to maintain and enhance academic quality

At the individual level, integrity has been described as part of one’s belief system – influencing what one does without faltering, no matter how risky the decision, no matter how unpopular the decision makes the person appear to others.

And Mott Community College in the US, in its Institutional Integrity Subcommittee Report, 22 focuses on six general categories of internal practices and relationships (college communication, policies and procedures, internal conflict resolution, diversity, college

while seeking to embrace best practices in institutional

finances and governance) and six external practices and

policies and procedures, acutely aware of their respon-

relationships (legal authorisation to grant degrees, public

sibility to the public. University personnel administer cur-

information, hiring procedures and practices, student ser-

ricular and co-curricular programs, including extension

vices and financial aid, relationships with other institutions

and auxiliary activities, [which aim to be] in the best inter-

and organisations, and college athletics) as measures of

est of the constituencies that they serve … Iowa State

its integrity.

upholds and protects its integrity while always looking for areas to improve overall institutional effectiveness.”19

These are valuable and interesting examples of how tertiary institutions grapple with the concept of integrity. Perhaps the most useful approach, which offers a broader


model against which these practices can be reviewed, is

define moral boundaries and may include policing or

offered by Grebe and Woermann23 in a paper which ex-

auditing agencies and oversight mechanisms (where or-

plores a conceptual framework for thinking about integrity

ganisations are concerned) and, by extrapolation, faith,

in developmental contexts, not only at the level of indi-

cultural and other moral guidance institutions which at-

vidual behaviour but also at the level of institutions which

tempt to provide a moral or ethical framework, where

embody social norms.

individuals are concerned.

Their key insight, they suggest, is that in thinking about

But all this comes to naught, they argue, if institutions,

“ethical leadership and developmental integrity, it is im-

including institutions of integrity, do not themselves func-

portant not to simply focus on codes of conduct, individual

tion in a way which has integrity. An institution has integ-

behaviour and enforcement mechanisms … rather, ethical

rity, it is suggested, if it is robust and legitimate and fit

leadership and developmental integrity in practice is a function of the more complex interaction of individual integrity, the institutions of integrity and the integrity of institutions.”


There needs to be internal consistency in an institution’s functioning, and external consistency in its relationships with the world around it.

for its purpose.

All three aspects work together to reflect the complex interplay of factors which produce and support integrity. Possible indicators could be: the appropriate mobi-

They talk of individual integrity as the traditional under-

lisation of people and resources for common and agreed-

standing of integrity in terms of honesty, appropriate be-

upon goals; institutional stewardship which fosters appro-

haviour (doing the right thing), and consistency between

priate individual and institutional behaviours; and con-

words and actions. Individual agency does matter, even if

gruence, as measured by appropriate and agreed-upon

it is constrained by social and structural forces and even

rules which govern institutional culture and the acting

though it may be informed by conflicting ideas of what the

out and respect of these rules by individuals and the

‘right thing’ is.

organisation. So there needs to be internal consistency in an institution’s functioning, and external consistency

But individual integrity, Grebe and Woermann argue, is

in its relationships with the world around it, based on

shaped and ‘bound’ by institutions of integrity (through

agreed values which benefit all, managed by a system

formal and informal codes of behaviour) – such institutions

which is fair and reflexive.


In the context of HIV, in tertiary institutions, this princi-

• Is there integrity when there is evidence that open sex

ple goes beyond HIV/AIDS policies and programmes,

education and a positive-sexuality approach makes a

and adopting values of non-discrimination towards in-

difference, and yet we ignore this and use coded lan-

fected and affected staff. Rather, it suggests that the

guage and moralistic approaches?

total institution itself needs to have integrity and to

• Is there integrity when we promote one form of moral-

operate in ways which not only acknowledge and act

ity over another – and offer mixed messages about our

on risks to staff and students, but also to operationalise

own moralities?

values which promote fairness, equity and opportunity for all, as a model of a good ‘institutional citizen’.

• Is there integrity when students engage in transactional sex and we ignore their needs – and do not address poverty, consumerism and inequality?

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HIV IN A TERTIARY CONTEXT? To answer this question, I pose a number of questions – suggesting, if you like, a set of indicators – which ask us about institutional integrity and point to what I call ‘a

The total institution itself needs to have integrity and to operate in ways which not only acknowledge and act on risks to staff and students, but also to operationalise values.

• Is there integrity when we teach students about intergenerational sex, but ignore evidence that some lecturers may be having inappropriate sexual relationships with students? • Is there integrity when we refuse to offer sexually transmitted infection services at our institutions and yet we know they

whole institution approach’ to HIV and AIDS – one which

are an important aspect of sexual health?

addresses the needs of students and staff and explores

• Is there integrity when we know about complex sexual

whether this is an honest, fair and just place to work

networks but refuse to conduct research into them or

and study. These indicators could include the following:

to understand them? • Is there integrity when we deny LGBTI groups the op-

• Is there integrity when we promote abstinence ap-

portunity to meet and organise?

proaches to student sexualities (including refusing to

• Is there integrity when we know that students face

provide condoms in residences), when there is no evi-

problems with drugs and alcohol and yet we do not

dence that abstinence works?

address these problems? On the contrary, we may offer venues where students are able to drink alcohol at


reduced prices, often with the collusion of corporates

• Is there integrity when we fail to develop a generation of academics and students who can offer intellectual,

which provide the alcohol? • Is there integrity when our institutions do not reflect

social and personal leadership on HIV and AIDS?

the rich diversity of role modelling for our students?

• And is there integrity when we fail to respond to the

• Is there integrity when gender equity is not openly dis-

needs of the broader society (and local communities)

cussed and addressed, and institutions are male domi-

through our teaching, research and outreach?

nated? • Is there integrity when we promote free thinking, creativity and autonomy, and yet residence students are


infantilised through initiation ceremonies, and sexual South Africa has had a divided and difficult past, and all

and gender stereotypes are not challenged? • Is there integrity when we fail to provide students with spaces to interrogate their identities? • Is there integrity when we promote individual approaches to sexual behaviour change, even though we know how social

Is there integrity when our institutions do not reflect the rich diversity of role modelling for our students?

and structural forces operate?

institutions, public and private, grapple with ways to overcome the past and to build a society which is fair, equitable and transparent to all its citizens. One response to the uncertainties of modern life, in the face of our past, is to return to a fantasy that a shared

older morality will provide a stabilising force. In the light

• Is there integrity when we offer primarily biomedical

of our deeply entrenched HIV epidemic, personal morality

interventions when we know that the social milieu is

regarding sexual conduct has come under the spotlight,

powerful, and we do not conduct research into the

and calls for individuals to make good and moral choices

medical and social drivers, and consequences, of HIV

have swelled into a chorus.

and AIDS? • Is there integrity when we fail to address discrimination, such as racism and HIV-related stigma?

The tertiary sector is no exception: many of the interventions around HIV are overly public health in their focus,

• Is there integrity when we fail to prepare students to be

informed by a poor understanding of the complexities

critical, involved leaders who interrogate democracy

of behaviour change, and reflect a subtle and insidious

and freedom and participate in debate and change?

moralism. Until these institutions come to terms with


their past, and find ways to become ‘institutions of integrity’, where fairness, justice, opportunity and equity prevail, it is hypocritical to ask students and staff to be more moral. A re-examination of institutional integrity can provide a new lens through which the systems and structure of a university can provide an ethical enabling space for individuals to make better and more thoughtful choices.

10 McLaren, A. (1999). Twentieth-century Sexuality: A history. Blackwell Publishers. 11 McLaren, A. (1999). Twentieth-century Sexuality: A history. Blackwell Publishers. 223. 12 13 Szabo, C. (2009). Adolescent sexuality: Beyond controversy. Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 18:1 iii-iv.


14 Massaut, S. (2004). Young and Sexual. An exploration of young people’s sexuality and their sexual devel-

1 Andile Ncontsa, writing on moral regeneration for an online publication called NGO Pulse at www.ngopulse. org/category/tags/moral-regeneration 2 ANC Today 11(8), 4-10 March 2011. 3

opment. Youth Incentives. 15 Schalet, A.T. (2011). Beyond abstinence and risk: A new

4 Ibit.

paradigm for adolescent sexual health. Women’s Health

5 Bayaga, A & Jaysveree, L. (2011). Moral degeneration:

Issues 21-35, S5-S7.

Crisis in South African schools? Journal of Social Science, 28(3): 199-210.

17 See for example the KABP survey conducted by HEAIDS in the tertiary sector in 2008/9.





8 9 Schalet, A.T. (2011). Beyond abstinence and risk: A new


htm 20 0InstitutionalIntegrity.pdf

paradigm for adolescent sexual health. Women’s Health

21 Ibid.

Issues 21-35, S5-S7.


23 Grebe, E. & Woermann, M. (2011). Institutions of integrity and the integrity of institutions: Integrity and ethics in the politics of developmental leadership. Research

Angus Taylor, UP centenary sculptures, 2008. Bronze and Belfast granite. Collection of University of Pretoria. Photo: EYEscape.

Paper 15. Developmental Leadership Program. 24 Ibid. 3.


Arend Eloff, Steenbok, 1991. Bronze. Collection of University of Pretoria. Photo: EYEscape.


Bland management Mary Crewe

The university should provide an ideal space in which to

It is astounding that South African universities have not

do HIV and AIDS work – for the university campus is in

embraced HIV and AIDS with greater passion and intellec-

the main a microcosm of the larger society, and deals

tual rigor. The epidemics and the social and medical issues

with similar kinds of issues. The university is confronted

that accompany them are an astonishing opportunity for

with poverty, racism, patriarchy, sexual relations, sexual

research, for teaching, for community engagement and

identities, and transactional and transgender sex. It is con-

for thinking about the future of the university institution

cerned with the education and the well-being of its staff

and of the country. HIV and AIDS, one of the most intrigu-

and students. The institution houses many of its students

ing phenomena of our time, should be the catalyst around

in small (often single-sex) hostels (or residences) rather akin

which much of the work in various university faculties is

to the accommodation provided by the mining houses

developed, for HIV and AIDS explains, highlights and

to their migrant workers. The university is confronted with

casts new light on so many of the problems of our time

drug use, alcohol use and abuse, and with myriad social,

– racism, gender, democracy, service delivery, and access to

personal, economic and political challenges experienced

information and care. The biological, medical and social

by staff and students and the communities from which

aspects of the epidemics invite us to take new perspec-

they are drawn.

tives on old issues; to create new understandings of poverty, inequality, exclusion, crime and abuse; and to envisage

One of the catastrophes that the university confronts is

new ways of ensuring the continuity of families and com-

the HIV and AIDS epidemics, which affect both institu-


tional culture and the ways in which university can be run. The epidemics affect the lives of staff and students

And yet, as Cal Volks points out, the tertiary sector has

and impact on the communities from which staff and

been slow to respond to the epidemics, perhaps because

students are drawn.

institutionalising HIV and AIDS as a university response is far more complex than merely offering HIV counselling


and testing services or establishing research programmes.

living with HIV and AIDS? Should this response be the

It involves turning around the university, so that we recog-

same (or different) to responses to staff or students with

nise the threat of HIV and AIDS both to the university

other life-threatening illnesses? So we can speak about

and to the society in which it is located, and that we re-

the university having an association of staff and students

spond in a holistic way. A meaningful response involves

with AIDS, but there are no associations for staff and

addressing the essence, culture and power of the insti-

students with cancer, TB or malaria – diseases in which

tution and challenging the relationship between the insti-

the death toll is also high, but which are seen as private

tution and the society.

health concerns. We talk about the importance of high-


level leadership and the creation of HICC committees. But In the past, many universities have been able to respond

we do not find the same urgency in addressing student

relatively effectively to social and political injustices. Some

alcohol or drug use – which in some institutions may be

South African universities have a rich history of opposition to apartheid and to the political repression of the previous regime. Yet such a history in and of itself no longer confers legitimacy on their current operation and practice.

Universities tend to see AIDS as a problem only if more than 10% of students

Likewise the credibility with the new regime

are infected.

equal cause for concern. Of necessity, AIDS is seen as being a public issue. Must we create a space for people to disclose? How can we create a space where it is safe for people to talk about sexualities in addition to being safe to disclose not only their HIV status but also sexu-

of some of the universities which were considered pillars

al practices and identities? Do universities need to have

of the previous dispensation should be cause for reflec-

HIV and AIDS programmes at all?

tion. It indicates how quickly institutions can transform themselves when social forces require it, but also how

Universities tend to see AIDS as a problem only if more

fickle the political imagination is. Success comes as much

than 10% of students are infected. This is not to deny the

from how an institution positions itself as it does from

personal, but perhaps the political, social and economic

any ideological identification or political rhetoric.

effects of the epidemics are of more immediate concern than the actual staff and students who are infected. In

In the first place universities have to address both the com-

the life of a university there are hard choices to be made,

plex issues of the individual versus the collective. What

and dealing with AIDS highlights many tough and difficult

should a university be doing about staff and students

choices about limited resources.


Dealing with HIV and AIDS in the tertiary sector touches

but also relate to the ways in which graduates need to

at the heart of what the university is all about – its core

be positioned to succeed in a future rendered so uncertain

functions of exploration, critique and the creation of new

by the epidemic.

knowledge. It is imperative that we develop a response that allows university staff and young people to think

The question posed by Edward Said in 1994 in his Reith

critically about HIV and AIDS, and how they can be

Lectures – Representations of the Intellectuals – is an inter-

equipped to challenge all the taken-for-granted realities

esting one for the university to consider as it plans for AIDS

and the orthodoxies that surround these epidemics. HIV

work. Are intellectuals, he asked, a very large group or

and AIDS interventions in the tertiary sector need to be far

an extremely small clique? The Italian Marxist, Gramsci,

more than education, prevention and training or knowl-

believed that “all men are intellectuals; but that not all

edge, attitude, perception and behaviour (KAPB) surveys.

men in society have the function of intellectuals”, whereas

Indeed, they are far more than policies or programmes such as peer education or teaching about safer sex and responsible sexuality. Such interventions should also be about how race, class, gender and culture influ-

Dealing with HIV and AIDS in the tertiary sector touches at the heart of what the university is all about – its core functions of exploration, critique and the creation of new knowledge.

Julien Benda defined intellectuals as a tiny band of super gifted and morally endowed philosopher kings who constituted the conscience of humankind.

ence democracy, accountability, citizenship and identity,

Is it possible to create public intellectuals among university

and how these shape both the epidemics and our respons-

staff and students who are able to think, debate and write

es to them.

about HIV and AIDS in new theoretically informed and compelling ways?

What should compel the university is the challenge of how it could become a critical space where HIV and AIDS are

The role of an HIV and AIDS programme at a tertiary insti-

a component of the intellectual activities of the institu-

tution is to develop intellectuals among staff and students

tion, a dimension of the planning and function of the

to become fascinated at a metaphysical level by HIV and

institution, and involved in the creation of new social

AIDS: fascinated about how it has shaped and will shape

understandings and explanations. Such new understand-

their colleagues, their peers and their mentors, and how

ings would not be just about infusion into the curricula

it is increasingly shaping the students who attend the


institution. Whilst HIV and AIDS are still generally regard-

cosy agreement, from endorsing dogma and orthodoxy

ed in the first place as a medical issue, even the medical

in a way that makes it seem as if we have forgotten that

response cannot be effectively divorced from the intel-

the previous regime demanded exactly the same kind of

lectual activity of debate, dissent and curiosity.

endorsement of dogma.

In Said’s view, the intellectual is an individual endowed

We need to generate a critical response from staff and

with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating

students – they need to develop the skills to ask difficult

a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to

questions and to challenge pervading orthodoxies. There

– as well as for – a public. And, Said says, this role has an

are many students whose intellect and curiosity is remark-

edge to it, and it cannot be played out without a sense

able and who relish the idea of thinking about HIV and

of being someone whose purpose it is to raise publicly

AIDS in new ways, using the ideas of different thinkers,

embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than to produce them), to not be easily co-opted by governments, corporations or other power groups. He suggests that the intellectual’s reason for being is to represent all those people and

Fundamental to effective critical HIV and AIDS work are the notions of sexual and social integrity.

confronting the taken-for-granted certainties and recognising that the future they will come to inhabit will be fundamentally different from the one inhabited by their parents. Such a future is not just the outcome of rapid and dramatic technological and climate

issues that are routinely ignored, forgotten or swept under

change, but also a result of the sweeping changes that

the rug. Intellectuals are not there to make audiences,

HIV and AIDS is making, and will make, to their commu-

politicians and peers feel good: their entire purpose is

nities and our society in ways that we have yet to under-

to be embarrassing, contrary and even downright un-

stand or take to heart.

pleasant. Fundamental to effective critical HIV and AIDS work are Much of the response to HIV and AIDS from the tertiary

the notions of sexual and social integrity. Increasingly we

sector (and indeed the nature of the HEAIDS response)

have come to understand that it is the absence of integrity

has highlighted the paucity of social research and a ten-

and of honesty that is underpinning this epidemic and our

dency in the new South Africa to shut down debate and

inadequate response to it. Pierre Brouard debates further

to close off discussion. Legitimacy, it seems, comes from


in his essay how important institutional integrity is in

if we do not explore the dark side of the moon, the

tertiary responses to HIV and AIDS work.

hidden meanings and identities that are shaped and strengthened by the attempt to homogenise people and

Sexual integrity means being honest in all sexual relation-

to assume shared values and beliefs. Understanding and

ships and being honest about one’s own self as a sexual

dealing with HIV and AIDS means working in uncertainty

being. But sexual integrity also requires a level of integ-

– it means refusing to accept the dogmas and the ortho-

rity from tertiary institutions that we have not yet achieved.

doxies, the obvious and the sensible.

It requires that we move away from notions of ABC and 2

ideas of sexual morality towards creating a critical intel-

Social integrity means holding up to the light all that is

lectual debate about masculinities and femininities, the

flawed and seeking a new way to create citizens who are

social construction of gender and a culture on the campus

honest rather than expedient, open rather than self-

that is open to a range of sexual identities and preferences. We need to understand that HIV and AIDS are deeply embedded in the social rather than the personal constructs of sexual identity and that the overly simplistic way in which we have addressed these

Sexual integrity also requires a level of integrity from tertiary institutions that we have not yet achieved.

issues serves only to confuse rather than to enlighten.

interested, and curious rather than certain.

Of course not all those involved in the university can engage with HIV and AIDS directly in their work. However, just as race and our understanding of race has shaped

us all and determined how we are able to work in, live in and share the new South Africa, we must also recognise

Social integrity means understanding the ways in which

that HIV and AIDS will also shape us all and determine

our society (and tertiary institutions as a reflection of

how we are able to work in, live in and share the new

society), in many ways lacks integrity and an ethical foun-

South Africa. When we ignored the realities of race and

dation. Social integrity means recognising that there are

racism, and when we did not have an intellectual under-

different views, and different ways of being and seeing

standing of race and racism, we found ourselves unable

and, most important of all, recognising that society cannot

to understand and account for much of what was happen-

be neatly slotted away into easy categories for research

ing in the present. The same is true of ignoring the realities

and intervention. Society is messy. By its very nature it is

of AIDS.

confused and muddled. We will not gain what we want


Angus Taylor, Van hier tot daar (From here to there), 2012. Slate and stainless steel. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Photo: Angela de Jesus.


This is a very important time for the tertiary sector to

and what needs to be done. And this is the essential space

reflect upon where we are in this epoch of AIDS – for it

that the ‘ivory tower’ affords.

seems that we have reached a serious impasse in our response and that we are floundering in how to sustain

What we have done is to have mainstreamed the status

the response. It also seems clear that now, more than any

quo rather than positioning it as something that we should

time before in the response to HIV and AIDS, the human

all be actively fighting against. The response to HIV and

rights and dignity of many people are directly under threat.

AIDS has become predictable, bound by formulas – a kind

We need to heed the opinion of Said:

of false community being asserted, a veneration of certain positions and ideas and a deadening and even loss of

I’ve never felt myself to belong to any establishcritical thought, debate and questioning. This is the very ment of any kind and mainstream. I’m interested antithesis of what the university is about and its critical in mainstreams; I’m jealous of them sometimes; role in challenging and changing society. occasionally, envy people who belong Responses to HIV and to them – because I certainly don’t – but AIDS have been on the whole I think they are the enemy. To quote Said again: I feel that authorities; canon; dogmas; mainstreamed in so many orthodoxies; establishments; are really ways that it is difficult to No social system, no historical vision, what we are up against … They deaden challenge them. 3 no theoretical totalisation, no matter thought. how powerful, can exhaust all the alternatives or practices that exist within its domain What we are confronting now in the AIDS world are the – there is always the opportunity to do someviews of people who have positioned themselves as exthing else; to formulate an alternative and not either to remain silent or to capitulate.4 perts, creating a canon, dogmas and orthodoxies, often with little or scant training in those areas in which they claim professional expertise. Responses to HIV and AIDS

What we seem to have lost in the AIDS response is the

have been mainstreamed in so many ways that it is diffi-

power to assert the alternative.

cult to challenge them – as for instance with the push by HEAIDS for mass testing campaigns through First Things

Young people studying at our institutions become adults

First – and this is having serious repercussions on our

in a world that is bewildering, exciting and full of challenges

ability to stand back and reflect upon where we are going

through sex, drugs, crime and violence, and immersed in


an education system that seems constantly to fail them.

shape their lives? And to equip them to have powerful

The AIDS epidemic is shaking the foundations of homes

imagined futures?

for many young people. The public sector in whose care so many of them are placed through education, health

The university can offer intellectual leadership in the HIV

care and social development is itself buckling to the

and AIDS epidemics and challenge many of the taken-

epidemic. But despite this, young people remain the

for-granted assumptions about the epidemics, about

great hope for the ending of the epidemic, for the care

society, about sexualities and identity. It can also foster new

and support of those who are infected as well as for being

understandings and explanations of the epidemics and

secure adults in the future.

the societies in which they are developing. The university can help us learn how to address the epidemics through a

Yet, we are failing them: we offer them mixed messages and we fail to educate them about their sexual identities and about gender social oppression.

The crucial question is: how we can do this effectively? How do we develop young people’s minds and equip them for the

Young people remain the great hope for the ending of the epidemic, for the care and support of those who are infected as well as for being secure adults in the future.

range of interventions that are both internal to the university and external in the communities from which the staff and students are drawn.

The role of the tertiary sector in this epidemic is to ask questions – to ask uncomfortable questions and to challenge existing

reality of AIDS? Do we get them to accept the reality,

assumptions about young people, social and sexual be-

merely to tinker with it and try to mitigate its effects – by

havior, and political responses. A further responsibility

not challenging the dominant status quo, by not question-

is to create imagined futures into which students and

ing the ways in which gender, culture and tradition feed

the rest of society can project a society post-AIDS.

into and collude with the epidemic, or by playing all the old clichés about power and oppression, and blaming

For this to happen, HIV and AIDS work must be seen as a

all the usual suspects?

process that can transform the institutions in terms of how they address social problems. We need a fresh look at

Or do we equip them to think in new ways about who

how societies operate and how the education system in

they are? To consider what forces have shaped and will

one way or another colludes in oppression. The tertiary


sector can provide new perceptions of how the status quo

tools to understand power, hegemony, patronage, choice,

can be challenged. HIV and AIDS can radically alter the

freedom and social identity? We need to provide students

core function and rationale of any university.

with the conceptual and theoretical tools to understand how culture can lock them into positions of inferiority,

In most AIDS prevention we have turned away from any

how culture can be used to collude with the epidemics,

real theoretical understanding through our devotion to

and how race and class and gender all have webs of

the myth that AIDS information and messages – AIDS pre-

interconnectedness beyond mere behaviour change.

vention – needs to be simple, that it needs to be uncomplicated and straightforward. In our adherence to this

AIDS education is not about basic facts, nor is it about

mythology we have failed to recognise the importance of

mass testing campaigns – it is about having the intel-

education being conceptual and theoretical – something

lectual skills and the curiosity to use facts to change the

that makes us think and through such thinking begin to understand, integrate and work with theory, so that we have the means to act on this understanding.

AIDS education is not about basic facts, nor is it about mass testing campaigns – it is about having the intellectual skills and the curiosity to use facts to change the world.


We are now in a precarious state with regards to the epidemics and the critical gender response. We have sunk into the pedestrian, the banal and the mundane,

We have to realise that we have fascinating and complex

the sound-bites and the clichés. What has happened to

epidemics, playing themselves out in widely divergent

the critical voice, the voice that challenges, the voice

communities with different pasts and different futures

that asks questions and refuses to accept the taken-for-

– and they are overlaid with fascinating and complex

granted explanations?

ideas about tradition, modernity and the impact of globalisation.5

The system and the push for mainstreamed responses neither want to nor in the end can accommodate the

What theoretical or conceptual tools are we developing

person who argues for alternatives for a different vision.

with young people to challenge the dominant status quo?

Yet it is essential for us in the tertiary sector to seek dif-

How do we recognise this epidemic in all of its complex

ferent ways to think about HIV and AIDS and how we

forms and provide young people with the theoretical

collude with gender oppression. We have made great


progress in many fields but we have still not got it right.

organisations and communities that are, or could be, con-

Our role now is increasingly to challenge the experts – to

tributing to the response and by critically assessing the

protect the human rights and dignity of all and to ensure

extent to which their existing response is meeting the needs

that in the panic attacks these epidemics create we do

of the entire university community.

not compromise on integrity, truth and debate. It is necessary for each institution to know its own epiThe forces of convention, of conformity and of reluctance

demic, as well as understanding the trends and shifts in

to engage in debate about things that unsettle, embarrass

the provincial and national epidemics. This is because the

or confuse would suggest that there is in our institutions

epidemics keep evolving and changing, new infections

a very large group of intellectuals with whom we need

continue to take place, stigma is still pervasive, and people

to engage far more effectively. Yet on many campuses

do not wish to be tested or to take up treatments. But,

there is a growing group of intellectuals with intellectual curiosity who are keen to develop new understandings and explanations.

It is necessary for each institution to know its own epidemic, as well as understanding the trends and shifts in the provincial and

There are three components to how the

national epidemics.

just as crucially, to know the epidemic is also to know what works, where voluntary counselling and testing campaigns are successful, how treatments may be best accessed and how best to sustain prevention and community engagement.

university might deal with HIV and AIDS. The first component is that each institution, as UNAIDS proposed, comes

Understanding their epidemic allows for each institution

to ‘know their epidemic’. Institutions would need to

to review, plan, match and prioritise their responses in line

‘know their epidemic’ by identifying the behaviour and

with the National Strategic Plan.


social conditions on their campus that are most associated with HIV transmission and that undermine the ability of

The second component involves understanding and reflect-

young people and staff to access and use HIV informa-

ing. In the current literature on HIV and AIDS prevention,

tion, prevention and care services to the fullest.

the idea of ‘social drivers’ of the epidemic features very strongly.7

Knowing your epidemic provides the basis for institutions to expand and craft their response by recognising the


HIV is transmitted by specific practices among individu-

Beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and practices of individuals

als and groups that occur in a social context. There is

and groups are framed by, and in turn influence, the

disagreement in the social sciences about the extent to

dynamic nature of these elements of society. These basic

which an individual’s desires and practices are shaped

constructs of human interaction in social groups underlie

by outside forces (social determinants) and how much

the concept of social drivers in the HIV and AIDS context.

they are a reflection of individual decisions to act (social

While there is no standard or agreed-upon definition of

action or agency), but there is a common understand-

social drivers, UNAIDS refers to them as “the social and

ing that much of what humans do, think, and desire is

structural factors, such as poverty, gender inequality, and

influenced, if not determined by, elements of our society.

human rights violations, that are not easily measured,

These core elements are norms, values, networks, structures

[but] that increase people’s vulnerability to HIV infection”.

and institutions.

Norms are rules about behaviour that reflect and embody prevailing cultural values and are usually backed by social sanctions (formal and informal). Values are ideas held by individuals and groups

Beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and practices of individuals and groups are framed by, and in turn influence, the dynamic nature of these elements of society.

As this definition conveys, not only are social-level phenomena difficult to measure, they also are difficult to define and therefore difficult to understand fully. A fundamental goal of HIV prevention is to change the behaviours that put

about what is desirable, proper, good or bad. Networks

individuals at risk of infection.8 For the past two and a

are the webs of human relationships (including dyadic,

half decades, HIV prevention has been largely dominated

familial, social, sexual and drug-using), through which

by individual-level behavioural interventions that seek to

social (including sexual) exchange occurs and social norms

influence knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, such as

are played out. Structures and institutions are the mate-

promotion of condom use, or sexual-health education,

rial and operational manifestations of social norms and

and education of injecting drug users about the dangers

networks, such as family units, organised religion, legisla-

of sharing equipment.

tive and policy apparatus, educational systems, universities, military and industrial organisations, etc., in which social

Although some individually oriented interventions have

interaction is patterned and, often, controlled.

shown results in reducing risk behaviour, their success is substantially improved when HIV prevention addresses


the broader structural factors that shape or constrain indi-

Dealing with AIDS is not about consensus – it is about

viduals, such as poverty and wealth, gender, age, policy

rigour, debate, dissent and conflict. It is about challenging

and power.

all the assumptions, so that we can truly say to young people, particularly young women, that we have done the

Causal pathways link so-called structural factors – social, economic, political, and environmental factors – and the risk of HIV. Efforts to address these underlying factors are commonly referred to as structural approaches and seek to change the root causes or structures that affect individual risk and vulnerability to HIV.

very best we can to understand this epidemic and the social webs in which it moves. It is about intellectual bravery and always speaking the alternative view. It is about having a different take on reality and challenging the status quo – hence imagining a future that we would all be proud to inhabit.

Understanding and reflecting is informed through the third component: that of good research, both social research and bio-medical research, and through research


that looks at sexual networks on campus and at how the institutional culture might impede effective HIV and

1 Crewe, M. (1999) They roam the landscape like leader-

AIDS work – e.g. levels of sexual abuse in residences, trans-

less dogs. Paper presented at the Commonwealth Heads

actional sex, intergenerational sex between staff and

of Universities, Durban 19.

students, levels of sexual risk among students, levels of

2 Abstinence, be faithful and condomise.

alcohol and drug abuse, sexual prejudice and stigma,

3 Ali, T. (2006). Conversations with Edward Said. Seagull

HIV- and AIDS-related stigma, and particularly gender issues and the position of women on campus. Understanding and reflecting is as much about ‘know your campus’ as it is about ‘know your epidemic’. The institutional leadership needs to take action to ensure that student and staff sub-cultures are recognised and identified. Denial exists about both institutional cultures

Books, 104. 4 Ibid. 109. 5 This whole section draws heavily on a paper given at the Toronto AIDS conference. 6 UNAIDS. Know your epidemic. 7 See in particular the work of the 2031 groups as well as the work of, inter alia, Judy Auerbach.

and the patterns of sexual behaviour and sexual networks

8 Gupta, G.R., Parkhurst, J.O., Ogden, J.A., Aggleton, P.,

on campus, and how these are fueled and driven by denial,

& Mahal, A. (2008). Structural approaches to HIV preven-

shame, social drivers and structural factors.

tion. The Lancet DOI:10.1016/S0140- 6736(08)60887-9.


Angus Taylor, Layers of mind, 2012. Stone and bronze. Collection of University of Cape Town. Photo: Katherine Traut.


Edoardo Villa, Conversation, 1973. Steel. Collection of University of Pretoria.


Cultural nostalgia and critical dialogue in peer education? Towards a generative space for HIV prevention in higher education settings Relebohile Moletsane


in promoting HIV prevention as it tends to change social norms and behaviour. The authors also cite Campbell and

Peer education has often been billed as most promising

Mzaidume (2001), who assert that peer education allows

in terms of effective HIV prevention and changing the

a change in the social environment in which young people

course of the AIDS pandemic internationally. The peer

live, study and work.

education approach has been used in various health interventions, most recently including reduction in substance

However, other writers are critical of peer education, charg-

abuse, and HIV prevention (see for example, Perry et al.

ing that it is “a method in search of a theory rather than the

1983, Wiist & Snider 1991, cited by Turner & Sheperd, 1999).

application of theory to practice� (Turner & Sheperd 1999:

Its advocates often assert that, in particular, young people

235). In spite of such scholarly critiques, the method con-

are more likely to be open to, and therefore, able to learn

tinues to be popular among health educators, particularly

more effectively, and to accept and use new, radically

(but not limited to) those who work with young people.

different and controversial information (e.g. about sex, sexuality and HIV and AIDS) if it comes from peers rather

While it is not intended to be a critique of peer education,

than from adults and/or so-called experts. Citing the work

this essay aims to examine the possible contributions of

of Bond, Valente and Kendall (1999), Murdock, Lutchmia

the approach to HIV prevention when used in diverse

and Mkhize (2010) conclude that peer education is effective

cultural and gendered contexts in South African higher


education institutions (HEIs). The essay will illustrate how,

nostalgia). On the one hand, reflective nostalgia uses the

in the context of the resurgence of the notion of ‘culture’,

same triggers of remembrance and symbols as frames of

and in particular, the notion of ‘our culture’ as a basis for

reference that restorative nostalgia does. On the other

individuals and groups to construct and perform their

hand, reflective nostalgia involves both individual and

identities (see Moletsane 2011), such nostalgia for the past

cultural (collective) memory in thinking about and ena-

is, in many ways, significantly and negatively impacting on

bling different or alternative narratives to be told. Informed

interventions, particularly education targeting HIV preven-

by this notion, the essay addresses the questions: Using

tion (and care) in communities and institutions, including

reflective nostalgia as an entry point, to what extent and in

the often celebrated peer-led programmes.

what ways can peer education develop a more democratic, generative and dialogic space in which young people in

Often, peer education involves didactic approaches to education, where less vocal individuals learn from and accept the views of experts and their more powerful peers. Rather than real learning, such approaches at best succeed in coercing people to conform (to the values and views of the more powerful) and in excluding and silencing

Often, peer education involves didactic approaches to education, where less vocal individuals learn from and accept the views of experts and their more

HEIs might explore different and even opposing ways of constructing and performing their identities? How might this contribute towards effective peer education for HIV prevention on university campuses?

powerful peers.

those who hold opposing beliefs (see Lesko 2010). In our patriarchal society, when informed by cultural nostal-


gia, such approaches perpetuate gender inequality, fuel gender-based violence, provide a fertile ground for HIV

Why is there a need to focus specifically on university stu-

infections, and inhibit efforts aimed at HIV prevention

dents and on peer education in HEIs?

(Moletsane 2011). As post-apartheid South Africa becomes a noteworthy As an alternative, the essay is informed by Svetlana Boym’s

political, social and economic player on the global stage,

(2001) notion of reflective nostalgia as a more democratic

paradoxically, the country’s internal socio-economic chal-

and generative form of memory (as opposed to restorative

lenges seem to be multiplying. Among these are unequal


access to resources and services (e.g. education, health

Of particular relevance to this essay is the survey find-

and transport), poverty, unemployment, and HIV and AIDS.

ing which suggests a link between forced sex and HIV prevalence. For example, the survey found that HIV preva-

In 2008/2009, the Higher Education HIV and AIDS Pro-

lence was higher among males (6.7%) and females (12.1%)

gramme (HEAIDS) conducted an HIV prevalence survey

who reported forced sex, than among those who did

among staff and students at 21 of the 22 HEIs in South

not (1.9% for males and 4.6% for females) (HEAIDS

Africa. While the findings of this survey suggest that

2010: 32). These prevalence rates are worrying, particu-

HIV prevalence in this population was low at 3.4% com-

larly in the context of the well-documented pervasive-

pared to the general population, the variations in the

ness of gender-based and sexual violence on university

prevalence rates present some concerns (HEAIDS 2010).

campuses across the country. For example, in an issue of

The first concern relates to the provincial variations in HIV prevalence among the HEIs, with the Eastern Cape having the highest at 6.4% and the Western Cape having the lowest at 1.1% (HEAIDS 2010). The second is related to the gendered prevalence rates among the students in the various HEIs. For example, across all

These prevalence rates are worrying, particularly in the context of the welldocumented pervasiveness of gender-based and sexual violence on university campuses across the country.

provinces, “[f]emales, with an HIV prevalence of 4.7%

Agenda dedicated to gender violence in education several authors reported and analysed the pervasiveness of gender and sexual violence on various university campuses (Clowes et al. 2009, Collins et al. 2009, Hames 2009). As microcosms of the larger society, there are unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence generally

and sexual violence in particular, among students at HEIs.

... were more than three times as likely to be HIV positive in comparison to males and this difference was sta-

The HEAIDS survey and the various studies referred to

tistically significant ‌(p<0,001)� (HEAIDS 2010: 29). The

above have several implications for HIV prevention inter-

third concern is related to the increase in HIV prevalence

ventions in higher education institutions. First, while HIV

with age. For example, among 18-19 year-olds, HIV preva-

prevalence rates are arguably low among students in HEIs

lence was low at 0.7%, while among 20-25 year-olds it

compared to members of the broader population, the

was 2.3% and among those over 25 years of age it was

variations in terms of prevalence rates still pose several


challenges for universities. For example, how can we keep the rates low and /or reduce them further? As this essay


will illustrate, without changing the socio-political contexts in universities and our society, the likelihood is high that


the prevalence of HIV among students will increase. Second, since prevention is still the best way to reduce

What is hampering HIV prevention efforts in South Africa

the impact of HIV and AIDS, higher education institutions

and among young people in HEIs in particular? As this

need to step up efforts to implement interventions that

essay suggests, one reason is the resurgence of ‘culture’

work. However, research suggests that current HIV preven-

as a basis for individuals and groups to construct and per-

tion interventions are not working. One reason for this

form their identities, and its exclusion and silencing of

is their focus on the individual and on changing individ-

opposing ways of being and doing. Related to this is the

ual behaviour, in spite of research evidence suggesting

resurgence of religious fundamentalism, which often con-

that people change their ways of thinking and doing only

demns free discussion on issues that are considered con-

when the social and environmental norms and group customs in which they live, work or study change.

As this essay will argue, our yearning for our cultural past is hindering efforts

Our yearning for our cultural past is hindering efforts aimed at HIV prevention generally, and efforts at HIV prevention in higher education in particular.

troversial and/or taboo and which tends to sanction alternative beliefs and ways of being in various contexts. Notions of ‘our culture’ and/or ‘our religion’ are often invoked for a variety of reasons in present day South Africa, including re-

aimed at HIV prevention generally, and efforts at HIV

asserting pride in identities that are deemed to have been

prevention in higher education in particular. In the context

lost during colonialism and later apartheid. The notion

of peer education, HIV prevention programmes are hin-

of ‘our culture’ is also used as a simplified response to

dered by, among other factors, silencing of oppositional

difficult modern social challenges such as HIV and AIDS,

voices, and undemocratic and unsafe spaces for students

or to explain and justify inequalities in social relations in

to tackle issues of ‘culture’, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS.

families, communities and institutions (based on gender, race, social class, race and other markers). Made popular

The section below focuses on the resurgence of cultural

among some young people by Julius Malema, the sus-

nostalgia and the ways in which it inhibits democratic

pended president of the African National Congress (ANC)

dialogue among youth and impedes the effectiveness

Youth League, as well as by President Jacob Zuma, reclaim-

of HIV prevention programmes in HEIs and other spaces.

ing various cultural practices lost as a result of colonial


and apartheid laws, or those abandoned as our society

for [a way of life] that no longer exists [and possibly] has

evolved and modernised in the context of globalisation (e.g.

never existed … a sentiment of loss and displacement”

virginity testing, polygamy, bride abduction or ukuthwala)

(Ibid xiii). This need to ‘reclaim our culture’ or to ‘go back

is viewed as appropriate justice and even as ‘revolutionary’

to our roots’ promises to rebuild or recapture what was

by the proponents of the cultural movement (Moletsane

lost (for example, as a result of the arrival of Christianity

2011). In families and communities, retrieving and reclaim-

and colonialism), and reconnect with, and to, the past.

ing ‘our culture’ is evidenced by the revival of old tradi-

This is maintained by adopting a “set of [traditional] prac-

tional practices such as virginity testing for girls, and the

tices, normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules

strengthening of others such as (traditional) male cir-

[to enforce] certain values and norms of behaviour” (Ibid

cumcision and initiation, and ukuthwala.

42). It is such restorative nostalgia which informs notions of culture and allegiance to it that creates unequal, un-

Scholarship on ‘going back to our culture’ and nostalgia for the past is slowly emerging. For example, two important examples are Svetlana Boym’s (2009) international seminal work, The Future of Nostalgia, and in South

democratic and exclusionary practices and social relations

Scholarship on ‘going back to our culture’ and nostalgia for the past is slowly emerging.

between men and women, different religious and cultural groups, as well as between those who regard themselves as custodians of the culture or religion, and

Africa, Jacob Dlamini’s (2009) Native Nostalgia. Informed

those with opposing views, beliefs and identities. To illus-

by such notions of nostalgia, and in particular, by Boym’s

trate, Thabo Msibi, in his contribution to a collection of

(2001) notions of restorative and reflective nostalgia, this

essays edited by Moletsane, Mitchell and Smith (2012),

essay explores some of the reasons why, in the context of

explores the ways in which dress informs, reinforces and

a resurgence of notions of ‘culture’ in communities, HIV

enforces heteronormative discourses around notions of

prevention efforts in South Africa more broadly and in

manhood, masculinity and sexuality among young African

HEIs more specifically, are failing.

men on a university campus. According to Msibi, in the eyes of peers, what a male student wears on campus denotes

Boym (2001) distinguishes between restorative and reflec-

his sexuality and sexual orientation, and therefore, whether

tive nostalgia. In the case of the former, she suggests that

he is ‘a real man’ or a homosexual, with obvious sanctions

the type of ‘going back to our roots or culture’ popular

and possibly punishment (violence) against those who

in South Africa, denotes a kind of nostalgia, “a longing

do not fit the norm. Msibi concludes that:


Thomas Kubayi, Walking fish, 2010. Wild fig wood. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Photo: Angela de Jesus.


… the men are ‘forced’ to dress in certain ways so as not to be seen as gay – an identity that almost all the participants tried to evade by any means … To avoid being labeled as gay, the men use their everyday routine of dressing up to arrange their dress styles in a hierarchical manner, ranging from those styles privileged through hegemonic masculinity to those subordinated through their supposed femininity (Mitchell, Moletsane & Pithouse 2012: 12-13).

and women who adopt non-heteronormative femininities

example, by sanctioning what they wear) because it is

of ‘culture’ to explain (justify) patriarchy and heterosexist,

‘our culture’. Adopting an ‘under seige’ stance, restorative

racist, homophobic (and other) discrimination and violence

nostalgics (Boym 2001) often use such a narrative to silence

between and among people. In South Africa, we are cur-

opposition and to exclude or sanction those who are ‘against

rently witnessing more and more cases of people (mostly

us’ or ‘against our culture’ by not conforming to this norm

men) citing ‘culture’ in defence of sexism, racism, religious

(for example, girls and women who wear trousers or skirts

intolerance, homophobia and other forms of discrimina-

that are regarded as too short, or those who adopt non-

tion. This has brought to the fore patriarchal and hetero-

heteronormative femininities). Such nostalgics tend to

normative discourses of sex and sexuality, which demand

react negatively and sometimes violently against those

loyalty and conformity, often through violent and undem-

whom they see as acting against the collective (such as girls

ocratic means, from those regarded as members of a

and masculinities), often with devastating effects for both victims and perpetrators.

Explaining this phenomenon, Desiree Lewis (2003: 1) writes that:

[The] naturalized discourses of “culture” in Africa have functioned coercively. Fictions of authenticity, custom, and “the past” bolster patriarchal goals Similarly, by invoking notions of ‘our culture’, the unequal and desires, while perpetuating the servitude of women, and demonizing both the men gender relations and gender-based vioand women who choose to reject hetBy invoking notions of ‘our lence between young men and women, erosexist norms. Such fictions carry a culture’, the unequal gender which arguably puts them at greater risk charged emotional force because they relations and gender-based are linked to a sense of loyalty among of HIV infection (HEAIDS 2010), cannot be violence between young men those with a shared history of misrepchallenged or opposed because they are resentation and cultural marginalizaand women, which arguably regarded as ‘truth’ by those who hold tion. puts them at greater risk of them. Practices abound that regulate and HIV infection. Thus, restorative nostalgics use the notion police the lives of girls and women (for


community or ‘culture’. Obviously, in the context of the

nostalgia (Boym 2001) and productive remembering (Blunt

need for HIV prevention and care efforts, the current

2003). For Boym (2001), while using the same frames of

restorative nostalgia or ‘going back to our culture’ is

reference and triggers of memory and symbols, through

negatively impacting on efforts aimed at educating

reflective nostalgia, which involves both individual and

about HIV and AIDS, and is in fact contributing to the

cultural memory, different stories can be told. Reflective

spiralling HIV infections in South Africa.

nostalgia “reveals that longing and critical thinking are not opposed to one another, as affective memories do not ab-

What can we do to counter the silencing and excluding

solve one from compassion, judgment or critical reflection”

effects of restorative nostalgia among young people on

(Boym 2001: 49–50).

university campuses? How might we use peer education programmes to effectively enable opposing views and experiences to co-exist in a generative and safe space for dialogue and debate on issues of culture, religion, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS? The section below addresses these questions.

For Mitchell and Weber (1999: 221), similarly, feminist nos-

There is a need to move from useless longing for things from the past (real or imagined) to reflective nostalgia and productive remembering.

talgia, with its ‘back to the future’ approach, demands and enables “alternative readings of [the past and] nostalgia, which [involve] looking ahead and imagining particular scenarios for the future”. Further, “the objective of memory work

is to make the past usable, so that remembering [might


serve to shed insight on and to transform the present and the future]” (Ibid: 5). From this perspective, we could use “what we know [not only] to inform and critique what could have been” (Ibid: 222) but also to understand what

To counteract the silencing and excluding effects of restora-

is, as well as to imagine what might be in the future.

tive nostalgia, strategies are needed that effectively bring other vantage points and experiences to the fore (par-

Using reflective nostalgia, among others, four possible

ticularly in the context of HIV and AIDS). In this regard,

interventions in peer education programmes aimed at

there is a need to move from useless longing (hooks 1989)

creating safe and generative spaces for debate and reflec-

for things from the past (real or imagined) to reflective

tion towards effective HIV intervention emerge. First,


such programmes might use ‘cultural’ or religious symbols

that it might not have happened at all. Using reflective

as entry points into critical reflection and debate about

nostalgia, peer education programmes that create safe

the drivers of HIV infections. Such debate and reflection

spaces for debate and dialogue around “what we know

might help us identify or develop ‘pedagogies of possibility’

now to [critically analyse the past and to] inform and cri-

or an ‘energising impulse’ (Mitchell & Weber 1999: 221)

tique what could have been” (Mitchell & Weber 1999: 222)

needed for imagining and developing effective HIV pre-

and what can be, are needed.

vention strategies (Moletsane 2011: 205). The benefits of this approach include acquiring knowledge that might

Third, in the context of unequal gender relations and what

be used to imagine alternative realities now and in the

Collins et al. (2009), Clowes et al. (2009) and Hames (2009)

future. This is because:

report as pervasive gender-based violence against women on university campuses, as well as the disquieting HIV preva-

The effort to revalue what has been lost can motivate serious historical inquiry [and critique]; it can also cast a powerful light on the present. Visions of the good society can come from fantasies of the future (Mitchell & Weber 1999: 221).

Debate and reflection might help us identify or develop ‘pedagogies of possibility’ or an ‘energising impulse’ needed for imagining and developing effective HIV prevention strategies.

lence trends among students in HEIs, feminist scholars have suggested that programmes must facilitate the development of alternative understandings of masculinities and femininities among students (see Magwaza 2006), and in

particular, foster productive/counter-hegemonic masculiniSecond, often commonly held restorative nostalgia tends

ties and femininities among them. Without such alterna-

to idealise the past, particularly what is regarded as lost

tive insights or views, practices that are often presented as

or stolen owing to colonialism and apartheid. Such views

‘culturally relevant or appropriate’ for maintaining order

are held as sacred and not to be questioned, but tend

in social relations between and among individuals and

to be uncritical of the realities of the past and to regard any

groups will continue to put young people at risk of HIV

critique as disloyal, disrespectful and racist (including the

infection (Leclerc-Madlala 2003).

charge that it is fuelled by western imperialism and feminism). For restorative nostalgics, it is difficult or undesir-

Fourth, peer education programmes must work towards

able to imagine that the past we (think we) remember


might not have happened the way we remember it, or


… the silencing that prevents women and children from asking and responding to difficult questions … and create and allow all members of the [peer group], a space or spaces for both critical debate and reflection about the past [and our culture or religion] and its impacts on the present and the future and for imagining what a different and desirable future (or futures) might look and how we might get to it (Moletsane 2011: 206).

the past and to silence and exclude those who do not conform to notions of the re-captured cultural past. Such remembering tends to exarcebate unequal gender relations, and to fuel gender-based violence, which in turn, arguably drives HIV infections.

On the other hand, the essay also argues that remembering does serve a purpose, and that reflective remem-

Such a democratic space and process allows all participants

bering provides possibilities for creating safe generative

the “innovativeness [needed] in contesting [taken-for-

spaces for critique and debate about the past and its impact

granted] discourses, practices, and identities that police

on the present and the future. Such dialogue would facili-

[their] rights, freedoms and desires” (Lewis 2003: 4). Citing Pereira, Lewis warns that this can only happen when learning spaces (e.g. in peer education programmes) are democratic enough to allow all voices and views to come

Reflective nostalgia potentially provides educative opportunities for fostering gender equality and reducing risky sexual behaviours among students.

tate the development of alternative individual and group narratives about sex, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS and how we might effectively intervene to curb the spread of infections among members of the community (in this case, university

to the fore in the debates so as to enable everybody

students). This calls for remembering that respects the

“to develop the capacity to go beyond what is given, to

Constitution and offers possibilities for imagining pro-

fantasize, to create new possibilities” (Lewis 2003: 6-7).

ductive and inclusive alternative futures.

For example, such reflective nostalgia potentially provides


educative opportunities for fostering gender equality and reducing risky sexual behaviours among students. As ar-

On one hand, this essay has presented a critique of a form

gued above, such a programme is more likely to succeed

of remembering that often seeks to restore or recapture

in a peer education context, among (theoretical) equals,

a lost past or cultural practice. As argued above, such

at least in terms of age group, and possibly interests and

restorative nostalgia tends to romanticise and idealise

desires. In this context, reflective nostalgia would use


individual and collective memory, and the cultural symbols

Hames, M. (2009). “Let us burn the house down!”

that go with them to critique the past, and imagine and

Violence against women in the higher education environ-

work towards an alternative future, one without gender

ment. Agenda, 80, 42-46.

inequality and HIV and AIDS among our student population.

HEAIDS, 2010. HIV prevalence and related factors – Higher Education Sector Study, South Africa, 2008-2009. Pretoria: Higher Education South Africa.

REFERENCES hooks, b. (1989). Choosing the margins as a space for Blunt, A. (2003). Collective memory and productive

radical openness. Framework, 36, 17.

nostalgia: Anglo-Indian homemaking at McCluskieganj. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 21(6),

Leclerc-Madlala, S. (2001). Virginity testing: Managing


sexuality in a maturing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 15(4), 533-552.

Boym, S. (2001). The Future of Nostalgia. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Lesko, N. (2010). Feeling abstinent? Feeling comprehensive? Touching affects of sexuality curriculum. Sex

Clowes, L., Shefer, T., Fouten, E., Vergnani, T., & Jacobs, J.

Education, 10(3), 281-297.

(2009). Coercive sexual practices and gender-based violence on a university campus. Agenda, 80, 22-32.

Lesko, N., Brotman, J.S., Agarwal, R., & Quackenbush, J. L. (2010). Feeling jumpy: Teaching about HIV/AIDS.

Collins, A., Loots, L., Meyiwa, T., & Mistrey, D. (2009).

International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education,

Nobody’s business: Proposals for reducing gender-based

23(7), 823-843.

violence at a South African university. Agenda, 80, 33-41. Lewis, D. (2003). Editorial. Feminist Africa, 2, 1-7. Dlamini, J. (2009). Native Nostalgia. Auckland Park: Jacana Press.

Magwaza, T. (2006). Editorial. Agenda, 68, 2-6.


Mitchell, C., & Weber, S. (1999). Reinventing Ourselves

Pettifor, A.E., Rees, H.V., Steffenson, A., Hlongwa-

as Teachers: Beyond nostalgia. London: Falmer Press.

Madikizela, L., MacPhail, C., Vermaak, K., & Kleinschmidt, I. (2004). HIV and Sexual Behaviour

Mitchell, C., Moletsane, R. & Pithouse, K. (2012).

Among Young South Africans: A national survey of

Reconfiguring dress: An introduction. In R. Moletsane,

15-24 year olds. Johannesburg: Reproductive Health

Mitchell, C., & Smith, A. (Eds). Was it Something I Wore?

Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand.

Dress, identity and materiality. Cape Town: HRSC Press. Turner, G. & Sheperd, J. (1999). A method in search of Moletsane, R. (2011). Culture, nostalgia, and sexuality

a theory: Peer education and health promotion. Health

education in the age of AIDS in South Africa. In C.

Education Research: Theory & Practice, 14(2), 235-247.

Mitchell, T. Strong-Wilson, K. Pithouse & S. Allnutt (Eds.), Memory And Pedagogy. London: Routledge. Moletsane, R, Mitchell, C., & Smith, A. (Eds.). (2012). Was It Something I Wore? Gender, dress and material culture in social research in South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC Press. Msibi, T. (2012). Angeke ngibe isitabane: The perceived relationship between dress and sexuality among young African men at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In R. Moletsane, Mitchell, C., & Smith, A. (Eds). Was it Something I Wore? Dress, identity and materiality. Cape Town: HRSC Press. Murdock, P.O., Lutchmia, J., & Mkhize, M. (2010). Peer-led HIV/AIDS prevention for women in South African informal settlements. Health Care for Women International, 24 (6), 502-512.


Moses Kottler, Convocation – war memorial, c. 1970. Bronze. Collection of University of Witwatersrand. Photo: Sally Gaule.


Edoardo Villa, one of six early reliefs donated by the Lupini family in 1999. Concrete. Collection of University of Pretoria.


Interrogating the link between gendered sexualities, power and legal mechanisms: experiences from the lecture room1 Sylvia Tamale


create a safe environment for meaningful discussions. An approach that presents fresh, relevant and critical perspectives to sexuality is always a challenge to the lecturer. In the

In most societies talking about sex in public is taboo.

main, students at the Centre for Women’s Law come from

Therefore, when postgraduate students at the Southern

different countries in southern and eastern Africa. Each

and Eastern African Centre for Women’s Law (SEACWL)

group presents its own dynamics, diversities and experi-

of the University of Zimbabwe are confronted with the

ences. Navigating such quandaries can sometimes prove

choice of elective courses, most view the course on gender,

quite tricky.

law and sexuality with a certain amount of unease, curiosity, and even suspicion, despite the fact that it is a second

In the course we attempt to achieve two main objectives:

semester course for graduate students who have already

the first is to demonstrate how sexuality is instrumentalised

spent a semester of exposure to theories and perspectives

and deployed by culture, religion and the law, among oth-

in women’s law.

ers, as a control mechanism for maintaining unequal power relations in African societies. Here, the main focus is on

Sexuality is a relatively new area of serious scholarship in

acquiring a deeper understanding of how sex, sexuality

legal academies in and outside Africa. Thus, it is critical to

and gender are interlinked with the law, in its pluralities,

use creative teaching methods from early on in the course

and with other sites and structures of power, to regulate

to break the ice, bridge the lecturer-student divide and

sexual relations and to consolidate control.2


Secondly, we explore sexuality as an alternative and

and historical studies that are useful in considering the

empowering force for challenging gender and power

relationship between law and culture, as they relate to

hierarchies. Through an exploration of the linkages be-

sexuality and gender. The second module of the course

tween the human body, gender, sexuality and culture, we

(taught by Sylvia Tamale) relates theory to the more spe-

critically examine the social, cultural and legal constructions

cific manifestations of gendered power in the legal regu-

of sexuality as they intersect with gender. Although the

lation of sexuality.

course focuses mainly on women, the issues traversed are not about women alone; rather, we address the role that

It is expected that by the end of the course students will

the law plays in maintaining particular sexual relationships

have acquired the necessary analytical skills to critically

and identities for both women and men, structuring and

question seemingly gender-neutral, ‘objective’ and ‘univer-

reinforcing a gendered society wherein women are largely subordinated to men.

Readings and assignments are selected to challenge students to recognise the intersecting aspects of gender, law, sexuality, culture and identity, and the ways in which individuals and groups have re-

Through an exploration of the linkages between the human body, gender, sexuality and culture, we critically examine the social, cultural and legal constructions of sexuality as they intersect with gender.

sal’ legal concepts and sexual norms. Students are expected to leave the course wearing gendered lenses that allow them to perceive and understand the subtle ways in which the law perpetuates gender discrimination through sexuality. At the same time, students who have completed this course appreciate the positive,

sisted and continue to resist oppression. The course is de-

empowering aspects of sexuality reflected through resist-

signed for maximum interaction and vigorous participation.

ance, subversion, negotiation, identity, self-desire, pleasure

As much as possible, examples are drawn from everyday

and silence.

experiences and references to real cases from across the continent are used throughout the course. Fortunately,

My own inspiration for designing this course was the glar-

there is never a lack of media exposure of current stories

ing gap that existed in legal training for analysing sexuality.

on issues of sexuality from around the continent.

I wished to create a space for law students to conceptualise sexuality beyond the ‘funny’ rape cases that they encoun-

The first module of the course (taught by Oliver Phillips)

tered in the traditional criminal law classes.3 The African

introduces students to some key conceptual approaches

Gender Institute (AGI) at the University of Cape Town was


critical in crystallising my motivation and sharpening my

• W hat skills do I experiment with in trying to link theory to everyday experience, as well as applying it

scholarship in this area.

to the professional work in which students engage? The AGI organised several workshops with African feminist

• What resources are available to demonstrate how legal

scholars to discuss pedagogical and content issues in the

mechanisms associated with sexuality hinder and/or

area of women’s studies. It was here that I honed partici-

facilitate social change or transformation?

pative feminist teaching methods, imbibed a rich array of

• What tools do I employ to help students unlearn deeply

literature and developed invaluable linkages with like-

embedded knowledge and relearn innovative ways of

minded scholars across the continent. My close involvement

building new theories of knowledge?

in the ‘Mapping African Sexualities’ research project organised by the AGI and the Institute of African Studies (IAS) at the University of Ghana in 2003 was the culmination of this learning process and sealed my conviction that this area was of critical importance to emerging academic discourse on the continent.

This chapter discusses the pedagogical

How do we move beyond initial reservations, embarrassments and reticence to engage the class in rigorous, productive and engaging analyses and reflections?

Each year is a new learning process for me and for the students, facilitated by our mutual symbiotic synergies.

Following this introduction, I provide a contextual overview of the course. I then delve into a pedagogical discussion of strategies that I employ to break the sexual

issues and methodological tools that I employ in the second

taboos in the lecture room environment. The fourth section

module of the course. Although the main focus is on its

of the chapter discusses the unlearning and relearning pro-

instructional aspects, some non-pedagogical issues form

cesses that course participants experience. The fifth section

part of the discussion. Some of the questions that the

reflects on the pedagogical aspects of linking gender/

chapter attempts to address are:

sexuality theory to social, cultural and political practice.

• How do we move beyond initial reservations, embar-

In the penultimate section I explore the transformational

rassments and reticence to engage the class in rigorous,

potential of transgressive sexuality, illustrating how

productive and engaging analyses and reflections?

students learn to question the very categories through which society constructs, regulates and systematises the


sexual. The final section of the chapter reflects on lessons

bodily integrity, but to protect the honour and the ‘prop-

learned from facilitating this course, the challenges en-

erty’ of related men, such as the husband and/or father.

countered and future prospects. This historical detail explains why the crime of rape does not fall under offences against the person, but under of-


fences against morality in most penal codes directly imported from former European colonial states. It further explains the law’s narrow, restrictive approach to what

Popular understanding of the term sexuality is often limit-

constitutes rape. The historical analyses also shed light

ed and closely linked to the sex act.4 In other words, the

on, say, the exemptions placed on marital rape and why

physical looms large. One of the first tasks undertaken in

evidentiary rules for rape allow the accused rapist to intro-

the course is to broaden such understanding by showing

duce the sexual history of the victim as a mitigating factor

the way that sexuality is deeply embedded in almost all aspects of human life. The historical, social, cultural, political and legal meanings and interpretations

Popular understanding of the term sexuality is often limited and closely linked to the sex act.

(Coughlin 1998). The phallocentric nature of the offence is also manifest in the requirement of penile-vagina penetration as a main component of the crime.5

attached to the human body largely translate into sexuality and systematically infuse our relationship to desire, politics,

The second reason for taking a historical perspective is

religion, identity, dress, movement, kinship structures, dis-

that this approach reveals the dynamism of sexuality and

ease, social roles and language.

how it has continued to unfold over the years. Finally, a historical lens assists students in developing a broader view

Using a historical approach to sexualities in Africa is im-

of contemporary sexual controversies, placing them in

portant for three reasons. First of all, it helps students

their proper contexts. Learning about the sexual diversities

appreciate the significance of various forces, such as colo-

that existed on the African continent prior to contact with

nialism, religion, capitalism and culture, in shaping and

Europeans and Arabs, for example, offers perspectives

influencing sexuality on the continent. For example, tracing

that recognise the complexity and depth of African sexu-

the history of rape law in common-law jurisdictions reveals

alities. History will likewise explain the pervasive double

that it was designed not to protect the female victim’s

standards that govern men’s and women’s sexual morality


in Africa.6 Therein lie potential answers to questions

deliberate process of othering, they foisted gross simpli-

such as whose morality sexuality serves, and what purpose

fications on complex realities. Colonial narratives equated

such moral codes serve.

black sexuality with animal primitivity. African sexuality was depicted as crude, exotic and bordering on nympho-

Delving into the history of African sexualities and engag-

mania. Christian interpretations of the heathen practices

ing with its political economy is a new experience for most

of the African were duplicated in the arena of sexuality,

students. For example, a historical discussion of the case of

and sexuality was depicted as immoral, bestial and lascivious.

the Khoisan woman, Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman, the so-

Africans were caricatured as having lustful dispositions.

called Hottentot Venus, is as fascinating as it is shocking to

Such constructions of Africans as bestial and inhumane

students. The response to Baartman symbolises the racist,

were an essential step in justifying and legitimising the

imperialist and sexist representations of African women’s

fundamental objectives of colonialism. Using such depic-

sexuality by colonial powers. It throws light on current

tions it was fairly easy to take the next step of describing

attitudes toward African women’s sexualities (medicalised, maternal and promiscuous, among others) that stem from colonial policies and institutions. Such

African sexualities have long been the subject of ethnocentric and racist constructions.

the imperial enterprise as a ‘civilising mission’ designed to enlighten and liberate the barbarian and savage natives of the ‘dark continent’ (Gates 1986).

stereotypes have been internalised by many Africans and are often repeated in media reports, research reports and

Furthermore, the fact that laws that govern sexualities in

popular culture. The case of Saartjie Baartman also explains

Africa are sourced from various legal systems (cultural,

the nature of sexual laws in most post-colonial states that

religious and statutory) poses different and complex chal-

aim to suppress and regulate women’s sexualities following

lenges. The pluralistic legal systems found in most African

the model of Victorian Europe.

countries are theoretically governed by a hierarchical paradigm, wherein ‘modern’ statutory law takes prece-

African sexualities have long been the subject of ethnocen-

dence over cultural and religious laws. In other words,

tric and racist constructions. A critical examination of texts

applicability of the latter is subjected to the repugnancy

from 19th century reports authored by white explorers,

test, meaning that only those indigenous/religious practices

missionaries and anthropologists clearly demonstrates

and values that are not repugnant to (colonial) natural

this. Either through blatant ignorance, or as part of a

justice, equity and good conscience pass the test. And


Noria Mabasa, Unity is power: Let us be united, 2010. Wild fig wood. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Photo: Angela de Jesus.


yet, a critical examination of students’ own experiences

chimutsamapfihwa among the Shona ethnic group of

and knowledge of human relations (including sexuality)

the Ndaus in eastern Zimbabwe – a type of surrogacy that

in Africa reveals that it is culture and religion (and not

links the institution of lobola (bride-wealth), barrenness

statutory law) that govern the day-to-day interactions of

and reproductive rights. Such a traditional concept enables

most African people. Legal tensions around social institu-

the class to understand the delinking of sexuality from

tions such as polygyny, bigamy, bride-wealth, adultery

reproduction in some African traditions.

and how they relate to gender, power and sexuality are discussed. Hence, the gap between law-in-the-books and

Using seminal works, such as those by Ifi Amadiume, we

law-in-action, even when it comes to sexuality, is apparent.

explore the historical and ethnocentric conceptualisations of African family structures, tracing their impact on dis-

Family structures (and their evolution) present another important contextual feature of this course. Given its rich and diverse cultures, the African continent hosts a range of family arrangements and a plethora of kinship relations. Students from various countries share their cultural practices

courses of African sexuality (Amadiume 1987). A deeper

Given its rich and diverse cultures, the African continent hosts a range of family arrangements and a plethora of kinship relations.

examination of more contemporary family arrangements that are at odds with the dominant, socially accepted norms, such as single-parenting and same-sex relations, among others, also helps to unveil the close relationship between the

with the rest of the class. The revelations that come to stu-

institution of the (heterosexual) family and the social pro-

dents during these discussions are always astounding. They

cesses of sexuality control.

discover the range of existing family structures and authority systems – patriarchal, patrilineal/matrilineal, patrilo-

For a more nuanced, critical approach we try to avoid

cal/matrilocal, exogamous/endogamous, extended/nuclear,

situations that encourage what Gordon and Cornwall

polygynous / polyandrous – and the significance of the

describe as ‘the tyranny of consensus’ (Gordon & Cornwall

impact of these different social systems on gender, sexual-

2004), whereby no space is created for minority individuals

ity and violence.

to express different views and to explore personal feelings. A good example is our interrogation of the concepts ‘cul-

The link is also made between various marriage arrange-

ture’ and ‘rights’. Instead of presenting the two concepts

ments and sexuality. A good example is the practice of

as distinct, invariably opposed and antagonistic, we explore


the emancipatory potential of culture to enhance the

of children; the right to sexuality education; equal protec-

quality of lives in Africa.

tion of the law; and non-discrimination.8 By discussing sexuality, sexual health and reproductive health as issues of

The potential that culture holds for emancipating women

human rights, we shed new light on issues such as abortion,

in Africa is often buried, for instance, in the avalanche

prostitution, homosexuality and HIV/AIDS.

of literature many feminist scholars devote to the ‘barbaric’ cultural practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Not

In particular, we attempt to demonstrate the centrality

only is there an acute lack of sensitivity to, and recognition

of ‘bodily integrity’ – the control of one’s sexuality and

of grassroots and local initiatives undertaken by African

reproductive capacities – to the emancipation of African

groups and activists in this regard, but the missionary zeal

women. Exploring the connections between sexuality

applied to the enterprise often produces a negative back-

and citizenship and what it means to be a sexual citizen

lash. In taking such an approach, we hope to 7

expose the limitations that stem from holding culture and rights as binary opposites in our strategic interventions for transforming society (Tamale 2008).

A human rights perspective provides an excellent framework for contextualising African sexualities.

against the backdrop of imported colonial sex laws, rising fundamentalisms (cultural, religious, economic), political dictatorship and militarisation helps unravel the challenges associated with realising such rights.

Finally, a human rights perspective provides an excellent

The entire discussion of sexual rights is conducted with

framework for contextualising African sexualities. Speaking

sensitivity to the tensions inherent in the conceptualisation

the language of rights to lawyers and activists is relatively

of sexuality within the framework of rights. Alice Miller

easy because it has become hegemonic in the search for

and others have articulated the paradoxes that burden

equality for the marginalised. Although the concept of

the context of rights when it comes to sexuality (Miller &

sexual rights has not yet been fully embraced by the

Vance 2004): one cannot simultaneously use the language

international community, we explore the various rights

of sexual rights to police ‘harm’ (such as securing freedom

incorporated in existing national bills of rights that relate

from rape or addressing homophobia) and to demand

to human sexuality. These include respect for bodily

privacy (such as to defend the sexual pleasure of consenting

integrity; protection from violence; the right to privacy;

adults). The contradictions can be seen further in claims for

the right to decide freely the number, spacing and timing

the right to privacy while at the same time asserting the


unacceptability of marital rape, or the awkwardness of

sexuality are integral to the students’ unlearning and

asserting the rights of people to sell or to make images of

relearning curve.

sexual activity, and while simultaneously calling for protection from sexual objectification.

Carefully thought out strategies and tools are employed to help students open up and shift their attitudes. Such tools enable us to achieve our objectives and to ‘spice up’


the sessions so that students get emotionally charged and


engrossed in the subject matter. For example, I make use of the question basket technique, whereby students anon-

As stated earlier, it is a challenge for us to create a relatively free and safe space where students can shake off inhibitions and feel comfortable enough to engage in frank and meaningful intellectual discourse on a range of topics relating to sexuality (Machera 2004). Finding ways of lifting the shroud of secrecy, taboo and silence that engulfs sexuality and breaking through the hegemonic moral code that associates sexuality with shame

ymously deposit embarrassing questions for class discussion

It is a challenge for us to create a relatively free and safe space where students can shake off inhibitions and feel comfortable enough to engage in frank and meaningful intellectual discourse.

at an appropriate time into a basket.9 A candid discussion of a range of hitherto taboo topics on sexuality provides a means of empowering students on the journey toward informed choices and better control of their lives, and gives them the skills to challenge hegemonic sexuality discourse.

On of the first day of the course, it is impor-

and guilt requires skilful creativity and resourcefulness.

tant for the class to formulate some basic ground rules for

Sensitive, uncomfortable subjects, such as masturbation,

the duration of the course. Involving students in setting

menstruation, orgasm, same-sex eroticism, incest, abortion,

these standards means that they will own them and there-

wet dreams, sado-masochism, infidelity, sexually trans-

fore feel more obliged to honour them. Usually the rules

mitted diseases, aphrodisiacs, erotic fantasies, oral sex,

are along the following lines: respect other people’s views

cyber sex and pornography are brought into public dis-

and opinions even when you are challenging them; toler-

course. Direct reference to male and female genitals with-

ate differences, including diverse identities, lifestyles and

out use of sanitised euphemisms is also encouraged.

sexual orientations; respect confidentiality – private or

Such strategic disruptions of the social constructions of

sensitive stories shared in class should not be talked about


insensitively outside the classroom; allow others to con-

small group discussions, role play, visual clips, debates, po-

tribute by not interrupting and/or dominating discussions;

etry, personal testimonies, case studies and peer reviewing.

allow individuals to pass when they are unwilling or not

Participatory, interactive learning is a major tenet of femi-

ready to speak; exercise your right to ask questions, as

nist pedagogical strategies (hooks 1989, Omolade 1993).

there are no stupid questions; avoid disparaging stereo-

I, as lecturer, take on the role of a mere facilitator of stu-

types that fuel racism, ageism, sexism and homophobia;

dents’ learning and not the ‘expert‘ know-it-all who trans-

and prepare for class by reading assigned materials.

mits information in one directional flow (Friere 1986). For example, the use of the poem ‘Moons waiting’ (see box

As much as possible, we avoid long lecture sessions, pre-

below) has offered students the opportunity to con-

ferring instead an interactive seminar environment in

front the otherwise difficult topic of abortion in very

which students participate actively through large and

useful ways.10

Moons waiting Many a woman knows the feeling

‘Thou shalt not take the life of the unborn’

Of intercourse, then overdue moons

Said Mr Law

The waiting, anxiety, desperation …

‘Will you take care of it when it’s born?’ I asked Mr Law ‘Of Course Not’

Crouched on the hard bench of the lab

The abortion was swift and efficient

The acrid smells pricking my nostrils

Or so I thought

Like a convict in a dock I waited for the verdict

Two days later I lay in the Intensive Care Unit They had been twins,

The results hit like a sledgehammer

One remained rotting inside me.


To save my dear life,

I had just turned nineteen

It had to be flushed out…

A fresher at the university

Together with my womb

My future bright and promising Not ready to become a mother I had to restore my moon cycle


An eternal end to moons waiting.

Allowing students to actively participate in their own

the sexuality of animals and statements such as: ‘even

learning holds several advantages: first, a sense of commu-

animals know better than to engage in unnatural sex…’.

nity is built within the lecture room that allows for free expression, trust and respect. Second, students have the

On such occasions, it is important to redirect the discussion

opportunity to be reflexive and critical of oppressive struc-

and ensure that the objective of the class is realised. For

tures and practices. Third, encouraging their participation

instance, it is useful to cite case studies that have shown

in the various activities, allowing their voices to be heard

evidence of homosexual pair bonds among animals and to

and developing the sense that their views are valued can

challenge the class to consider whether ‘unnaturalness’

be extremely empowering for students. Finally, the context

equals immorality, and whether homo sapiens should be

provides a rich learning experience for everyone (includ-

looking to animals for moral standards. The brief lecture

ing the lecturer), based on the diverse experiences and

sessions at the beginning of each session are used to intro-

knowledge represented in the class. When we were discussing reproductive health and rights four years ago, for example, a professional nurse in the class enriched the conversation with her practical experiences from the field. During a discussion

If not handled with sensitivity, experience has also taught us that feminist pedagogical methods can have a downside.

duce topics and to provide a theoretical backdrop on which to hook subsequent discussions. Indeed, caution has to be applied to ensure that classroom liberalism does not become counterproductive to the learning process.

of diverse sexualities, she made the connection between the intransigent cases of yeast (candidiasis) infections

The use of humour and appropriate icebreakers is an excel-

among her female patients and heterosexual anal sex.

lent way to reduce anxieties and to create a friendly, relaxing atmosphere. If used appropriately, humour has the

However, if not handled with sensitivity, experience has

ability to bridge intercultural, interfaith, interpower and

also taught us that feminist pedagogical methods can have

inter-generational divides when all other forms of commu-

a downside. For example, sometimes discussions can be

nication fail. Here, we do not refer to jokes that elicit loud

hijacked and side-tracked, leading to petty squabbles and

laughter but rather to conceptual humour that facilitates

insecurities. This usually happens during discussions of con-

the students’ learning process. For example, I often borrow

troversial moral debates, say regarding same-sex desire.

Stephen Law’s stimulating debate on homosexuality by hav-

Somehow the dialogue always veers to a discussion about

ing two students play the roles of God and the protagonist,


Azwifarwi Ragimana, Adam and Eve, 2010. Olive wood. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Photo: Angela de Jesus.


Mr Jarvis (Law 2003). Another example is through a drama-

Ostensibly the bib works to enhance the pleasure of sexual

tisation of the famous Kenyan case of the 67-year-old female

intercourse for both partners. The specific form of outer-

activist who married a 25-year-old man (see also Kariuki

course from Rwanda and parts of Uganda is another prac-

2005). Through such exploration we are able to clarify

tice that always generates a lot of interest among students,

some important issues regarding sexuality in family law.

especially its associations with female ejaculation.13 The

The use of the French phrase la petite mort (a little death)

dialogue on positive sexuality usually translates into an

in reference to sexual orgasm also adds a light touch to the

empowering, life-changing experience for most students.


uneasy topic. Furthermore, sharing of personal experiences, including those of the lecturer, gives the discussions a ‘human face’ and helps in cultivating a sense of trust.

Once students feel comfortable enough to discuss taboo topics, reticence is replaced with excitement and enthusiasm about learning new ideas. They exchange knowledge about various ‘exotic’ practices in their different cultures, which be-


Once students feel comfortable enough to discuss taboo topics, reticence is replaced with excitement and enthusiasm about learning new ideas.

The introductory session of the course emphasises the importance of keeping an open mind, because minds, like the proverbial parachute, only work when they are open. Individuals with open minds are

come the subjects of intellectual discourse. Take the cul-

less likely to be judgmental. A rigid, closed mind, on the

tural aesthetic practice of elongating the inner folds of the

other hand, limits one’s intellectual potential and is likely

labia minora among several Bantu-speaking communities of

to hinder transformational change. But transformative

eastern and southern Africa, such as the Baganda (Uganda),

learning can only be achieved through a process of un-

the Tutsi (Rwanda), the Basotho (Lesotho), the Shona (Zim-

learning and relearning. This cognitive process has proved

babwe), the Nyakyusa and Karewe (Tanzania), the Khoisan

to be a huge challenge for many students who have been

of southern Africa and the Tsonga (Mozambique) (see also

educated in colonial and post-colonial education systems,

Tamale 2005).12 Or the Kenyan versions of male circumcision

which limit their instruction to rote learning and grossly

among the Masai and Kikuyu, which involve partial cir-

neglect the skill of unlearning.

cumcision, allowing the lower part of the foreskin to remain attached in a bib of atrophied flesh (Romberg 1985).


Under such circumstances, it is important for us to facilitate

On some occasions there are individuals who, in their

students wading through layers of normative assump-

ardent bid to voice their views, break the ground rules,

tions that many have never been able to question or to

crossing the line of respect and appropriate behaviour

challenge. Unlearning requires students to leave their ‘com-

towards their colleagues. In these instances, I momentarily

fort zones’ and to abandon deeply entrenched beliefs and

retreat (not physically but vocally) and let the class deal

practices. It calls for them to confront their prejudices,

with the situation. This tactic encourages students to

and to shift attitudes and mind-sets. All this involves

sharpen their critical thinking and discussion skills, draw-

serious discomfort and disequilibrium. Relearning, on the

ing on the knowledge acquired from the class. It has the

other hand, requires the acquisition of new knowledge

additional advantage of making sure that I, as lecturer, do

and/or the reorganisation of the old (Soto-Crespo 1999;

not appear to be imposing my views on the students. Such

Gordon & Cornwall 2004). It explains why sexual stereo-

lecture room discussions usually spill over to residential

types that intersect with gender, race, religion and culture, and are deeply embedded in social and individual consciousness, become extremely difficult to overcome.

Discussions about sexuality can be contro-

Unlearning requires students to leave their ‘comfort zones’ and to abandon deeply entrenched beliefs and practices.

halls, where students engage colleagues who are not enrolled in this class. Sometimes we also invite guest speakers from organisations such as Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) to have a discussion with students.

versial. We often have lively, impassioned debates in class. Inevitably individuals have very strong views about issues

Prior to joining the programme, and this class in particular,

such as abortion, sex work and homosexuality. Even when

very few students would have questioned images of femi-

students unlearn dominant sexuality discourses, some ex-

ninity, masculinity, motherhood, fatherhood, family, desire,

press the huge dilemma they confront in reconciling their

non-procreative sex, multiple sexual partners, same-sex

religious beliefs with their newly acquired sexuality dis-

eroticism, rape, sex work, abortion, menopause, decency

courses. These are never simple issues to tackle and we spend

and sexual morality that patriarchal-capitalist societies

a lot of time discussing feminist theology, theological

construct for us. Neither the cultural definitions and mean-

hermeneutics, issues of re-interpretation and contextualisa-

ings, nor the links to power and dominance that these

tion of the scriptures, drawing parallels with racist inter-

issues raise, are often questioned. So we spend many

pretations of the theological text, and so forth.

hours in the lecture room unpacking the preconceptions


used to construct and give meaning to these concepts,

of theorising sexuality begins from the simple awareness

analysing the role of the law in creating, sustaining and

that sexuality (like race and gender) is a social construction.

reproducing these ideas, and how individuals, groups and

To a large extent, the human body enters the world as a

communities subvert hegemonic sexual norms and values.

blank slate. Thereafter, the social world infuses the body with meanings and interpretations, turning it into a sexed

An effective way of engaging with all these issues is to

body, a cultural body, a gendered body, a classed body,

explore the various ways in which sexuality norms are

a religious body, a racial body, an ethnic body.

institutionalised and how these are interwoven into the social fabric of students’ everyday experiences, knowledge

These social inscriptions – which are normalised and natu-

and social relationships. Theory then helps students make

ralised – are engraved on our bodies by the dominant social

the connections between seemingly disparate concepts

class (which has an investment in maintaining social hier-

and to answer questions relating to the why and how of sexuality.

In their course evaluations, many students have positively rated the course, using words such as ‘informative’, ‘an

The process of theorising sexuality begins from the simple awareness that sexuality (like race and gender) is a social construction.

eye-opener’, and ‘life-changing’.

archies), using culture, law, politics, media, education, morality and religion. In Africa, such nibs inscribe with the bold influence of colonialism, neo-colonialism and patriarchy. Thus, the inscribed rules, images, symbols and even hierarchies that give

shape and character to the bodies of African women and men become an important tool for sustaining patriarchy and capitalism.

LINKING THEORY TO EVERYDAY EXPERIENCES Indeed, women’s bodies constitute one of the most formiHaving attempted to create a feminist learning environ-

dable tools for creating and maintaining gender roles and

ment, it is important to make conscious the connections

relations in African societies. Although the texts that

between theory and practice in order for students to

culture inscribes on African women’s bodies remain invisi-

deepen their understanding of the linkages between gen-

ble to the uncritical eye, they are in fact crucial for effect-

der, law, inequality and sexuality. Hence, theory is the over-

ing social control. The inscriptions that are encoded onto

arching contextualising factor in the course. The process

women’s bodies have sexuality writ large. Through the


regulation and control of African women’s sexualities

books of post-colonial countries are rooted in the history

and reproductive capacities, their subordination and con-

and tradition of the former colonising European nations.

tinued exploitation are guaranteed. The theory of sexual

To some extent this means that Western theoretical per-

scripting makes the important link between individual

spectives define the underlying rationale and practice of

interactional behaviour on the micro level and the larger

the legal regime governing sexualities in Africa. More-

social forces on the macro level (Gagnon 2004).

over, as Bibi Bakare-Yusuf usefully reminds us:

For millennia, Africa has been part of Europe, as Europe has been part of Africa, and out of this interdisciplinary in nature, authored by a mix of scholars relation, a whole series of borrowed traditions from from the global North and the global South. Concepboth sides has been and continues to be brewed and fermented. To deny this intercultural exchange tualisations of sexuality and desire, heteronormativity, and reject all theoretical imports from Europe is to representation, sexual scripting, perforviolate the order of knowledge and The theoretical readings that mance and performativity are explored ussimultaneously disregard the (continwe assign to students are ued) contribution of various Africans ing feminist jurisprudence, post-structural to European cultural and intellectual interdisciplinary in nature, theory and post-colonial theory. Some of history, and vice-versa (Bakare-Yusuf authored by a mix of the theorists that we use in class include 2003: 140). scholars from the global Sigmund Freud, Chandra Mohanty, Uma North and the global South. Secondly, if we were to totally jettison Narayan, Ifi Amadiume, Catharine MacThe theoretical readings that we assign to students are

Kinnon, Gayle Rubin, Michel Foucault, John Gagnon, Judith

Western concepts and theoretical frameworks, we would

Butler and Patricia McFadden.

spend considerable resources reinventing the wheel – an unnecessary enterprise. There is a great deal of sense in

Although it is important to develop home-grown theories

using existing theoretical bases as a starting point and

of African sexualities and to be keenly aware of the dan-

then correcting or revising them in light of the contextual

gers of uncritically using theories that are constructed in

evidence collected in current studies.19 Existing theoretical

the global North to explain African societies, the latter

frameworks, such as Foucault’s conceptualisation of sexual-

cannot be completely ignored, for three reasons. First, many

ity in terms of power relations (Foucault 1976), Judith

of the contemporary codes of sexual morality and most

Butler’s implicit theory of heteronormativity and her views

of the laws pertaining to sex contained in the statute

on the subversive potential in gender performativity


(Butler 1990), or Gayle Rubin’s concept of sexual hierarchy

polygyny would replace monogamy in the charmed

(Rubin 1984) can be useful in analysing sexualities in Africa,

circle of most African societies. In the same vein, cross-

as long as analysis is carried out with the continental spe-

generational sex in the sex value systems of many African

cificities in mind and with a view to improve upon them.

societies would move from the outer limits to the inner circle as this is relatively acceptable (albeit privileging

A simple illustration can be made using Rubin’s (1984)

sexual relations between older men and young women

model of sexual hierarchy. Rubin shows how American

and not vice versa). Rubin’s stratification could further

society classifies sexual behaviour into a sexual value system

be criticised for its failure to show how some individuals

in which good, normal, natural and privileged sexuality

who seem to fit into the ideology of the ‘charmed circle’

(located in what she refers to as the ‘charmed circle’ of sex)

might simultaneously suffer discrimination through, for

must be ‘heterosexual, married, monogamous, procreative,

example, exempting marital rape from criminal sanction.

non-commercial, in pairs, in a relationship, same generation, in private, bodies only and vanilla’. Those that conform to this ideology enjoy privileges and material benefits. Outside the ‘charmed circle’ and on the ‘outer limits’ is ‘bad, abnormal, unnatural and

Outside the ‘charmed circle’ and on the ‘outer limits’ is ‘bad, abnormal, unnatural and damned sexuality’.

The third reason why Western theories can be relevant and useful to African contexts is that gendered sexualities, whether in the West or in Africa, are primarily based on similar predictions, namely labour, authority

damned sexuality’. Characteristics of the latter include

and performance (Bennett 2000). In other words, the hier-

‘homosexual, unmarried, promiscuous, non-procreative,

archical constructions of sexuality in either context are

commercial, alone or in groups, casual, cross-generational,

linked by the force of gender to labour, authority and per-

in public, pornography, with manufactured objects and

formance, against the backdrop of capitalism and patriarchy

sadomachistic’. Those that engage in sexual relations out-

(in their multiple variants). Hence there is an underlying

side the charmed circle face legal and social sanctions as

resonance between the respective structures of Western

well as maltreatment (Rubin 1984: 281).

and African societies that compels us to desist from completely rejecting or dismantling Western theoretical scaf-

Most of the elements in Rubin’s hierarchical model resonate

foldings because they provide some useful tools for re-

with experiences in many African societies. However, there

searchers to develop insights concerning African sexu-

are certain elements that clearly differ. For instance,

alities. Having said that, because of certain ideologies


Jan van der Merwe, No, I want my mother, 2000. Installation, found objects, rusted metal, TV monitor and DVD player. UNISA Art Collection.


and practices unique to the continent, theorising African

inspired homophobia and Africa’s autocratic and dictatorial

sexualities would differ from Western sexualities in nu-

regimes.21 By constantly attacking homosexuals, attention

anced specificities (Helle-Valle 2004). For example, one

is conveniently diverted from other pressing issues.

cannot ignore those aspects of cultural ideology that are widely shared among Africans, such as community, soli-

Before students leave their home countries, we request

darity and the ethos of ubuntu (humaneness),20 just as

them to collect sexuality-related materials – legislation,

one must pay attention to the common historical legacies

newspaper clips, among others – and bring them for use

inscribed in cultures within Africa by forces such as coloni-

in class. Grounding sexuality concepts in real-life experi-

alism, capitalism, imperialism and globalisation.

ences is crucial to the process of knowledge production among students. One technique that we have found useful

Other examples are the self-identifying terms gay, lesbian and transgendered that have emerged from Western societies. These differ quite markedly from the descriptors for some same-sex relations found on the continent (e.g. batsoalle woman-to-woman relationships in Lesotho – see Kendall

over the years to get students to appreciate theoretical

One cannot ignore those aspects of cultural ideology that are widely shared among Africans, such as community, solidarity and the ethos of ubuntu.

explanations of gender and sexuality is to make extensive use of analogies to racism. African students – especially males – readily appreciate theories on and comparisons with racialism and racism, more so than gender/sexuality theo-

1998). The identity politics that underpin these Western

ries. When we explain discrimination and oppression from

notions do not necessarily apply in African contexts (Ama-

the analogous grounds of ‘racism’ and ‘otherness’, the

diume 1987, Kendall 1998, Tamale 2003, Oyewumi 2005).

pieces begin to fall into place for most students. The oppressive structures that underlie racism, sexism, genocide,

In the same vein, it would be foolhardy for anyone theoris-

homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and such doctrines

ing about women’s sexualities to ignore the machinations

are all legitimised through ‘naturalised’ norms that de-

of Africa’s ‘structurally adjusted’ economies and the atten-

humanise, infantilise, disempower and disenfranchise

dant ‘feminisation of poverty’ when analysing women’s

people. Therefore, by invoking the justifications pandered

involvement in commercial sex work and the heightened

by some racist theorists, students begin to appreciate

prevalence of HIV/AIDS. It is also necessary to make the

analogous experiences of otherness.

philosophical link between institutionalised and state-


Viewing inequalities through the lens of gendered sexualities facilitates students’ understanding of sexual laws and policies. This in turn enhances their capacities to challenge and critique institutions, laws and policies that reinforce such inequalities. For example, most students enter the course with deeply embedded prejudices about commercial sex. But a discussion of the connections between class/gender inequalities and the control of women’s

There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane … In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives (Lorde 1984: 53).

desire and sexual activity usually facilitates a ‘light bulb’ moment for students and develops their appreciation

One student told the class that Lorde’s essay was such an

of the dynamics of sexual work and its criminalisation.

eye-opener for her that it completely transformed her

Viewing inequalities through


the lens of gendered sexualities facilitates students’ understanding of sexual laws and policies.

marriage and sexual life. This student had never conceived of her sexuality as a source of power.

Therefore, even though women’s sexualised bodies represent powerful constraints

Talking about the positive, pleasurable aspects of sexuality

in Africa, sexuality also holds positive, empowering pos-

is a major component of realising the objectives of the

sibilities for them. The body politics of African women are

course. It goes against the prescribed cultural morality of

also possessed of empowering sub-texts, reflected through

the oppressive structures that operate in Africa. Such dis-

resistance, negotiation, identity, self-desire, pleasure and

cussions have undoubtedly proved to be an empowering

silence. There is a legitimate silence surrounding some

resource for students, whose incapacitated worldview is

African women’s sexuality, a silence that cannot be en-

radically transformed by the end of the course. Many stu-

gaged and is ambiguous. Here, silence is different from

dents have, for example, found Audre Lorde’s eloquent

the Western feminist approach that often names it as a

words empowering:

total blank while valorising voice. In many African cultures speech is necessary and empowering, but in sexuality silence can be equally powerful. For instance, silence


can serve as a tool for the rejection of externally imposed

and articulating their needs and rights, and in rewriting

projections of African women’s sexuality.

the script for HIV/AIDS (Obbo 1995, Adomako Ampofo 1999, Sisulu 2000). Although the pandemic has created

There are traditions of sexual initiation across the continent

new hierarchies of domination and exploitation, it has

that are espoused by erotic cultures, such as the Ssenga

at the same time built the foundations of empowerment

among the Baganda of Uganda, the Tete among the Shona

for African women by spurring a new kind of political

of Zimbabwe, the Alangizi among the Yao of Malawi and

consciousness and self-organisation.

the Chewa/Nyanja of Zambia, the Mayosenge among the Bemba of Zambia and the Lawbe women of Senegal. All

Debates about the issues of sexual harassment, dress codes

carry some empowering messages for young girls and

and gender discrimination, as well as the processes through

women embedded in intricate sexual practices and tra-

which such oppressive structures are maintained, open up

ditions. Most of these positive erotic cultures have survived and endured the repressive regime of foreign laws and religions that have attempted to smother them.

Analysing gendered sexualities against the backdrop of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa has significant implications for subversive transformation.

Analysing gendered sexualities against the backdrop of

ideas for discursive techniques that can be deployed to resist them. The common stereotypes and misconceptions that students have about issues such as sexual advances, the hijab and nudity are debunked and deconstructed in transformative ways.

the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa has significant implications for subversive transformation. Not only has the epidemic opened up African women’s bodies and sexualities to public scrutiny, it has also compelled a public


debate on women’s sexualities, vulnerabilities and power. The sheer volume of financial and scientific interest in HIV/

Not all students who enrol for this module have an interest

AIDS has meant that the authors of the mainstream story

in a transformational agenda when they first join the class.

have not always been African women (Caldwell 2000,

Some enrol out of sheer curiosity, others because they

Cohen 2000). However, women living with and affected

see career opportunities in the subject area, and so forth.

by the pandemic have persisted in defining, reframing

However, regardless of their initial motives, by the end


of the course not only do the majority of students under-

studies, we clearly see the course deeply interwoven in

stand the links between sexuality and women’s status but

the analysis and conceptual understanding of the issues

they also appreciate the status of sexuality as an intellec-

under discussion.

tual concept within gender and the law. It is astounding to observe the lecture room climate transform over the

Analysing and negotiating the complex terrain of sexuality

days from ‘giggles’ to serious discussions, dialogue and

in a lecture room environment necessarily means that there


are several ambiguities, contradictions and intersections that we cannot address fully in class. This is especially so

Analysing the law through gendered lenses affords stu-

given that we have a period of only four weeks to cover

dents the opportunity to examine critically the relation-

this subject. Just as most students are beginning to feel at

ships between law, gender, identity and oppression. It is gratifying to hear the changed voices of students committing to return home and become in their own small ways agents of transformation. As one criminal defence lawyer put it at the end of the 2009 course: ‘I’m totally ashamed of what I’ve been doing to all those rape victims in

Analysing the law through gendered lenses affords students the opportunity to examine critically the relationships between law, gender, identity and oppression.

court during cross-examination.’

ease with the subject matter, the course comes to an end and they have to prepare for examinations. It is at this ‘liberated’ stage that most are willing to confront the numerous contradictions between their inner desires and the social norms to which they are supposed to comply.

We face further challenges: getting students with various academic and social pressures to read and internalise the

In many ways this course is an exercise in self-discovery,

assigned materials is never guaranteed. Only a handful

personal growth, healing and empowerment. Some stu-

of them seem to take time to more than quickly browse

dents have been so stimulated by the course that they

through the readings, and the common evaluation of the

have gone on to develop research proposals in the area

readings each year is that there are too many of them. It

of gender, law and sexuality. Excellent dissertations have

is therefore important to think about ways of motivating

been written on exciting topics, such as traditional mar-

students to critically read and analyse the assigned texts.

riage counselling and HIV/AIDS, sex education in schools, abortion in rape situations and sex tourism. In all these


Course evaluations are extremely useful in educating us


about students’ expectations, interests and fears, and about the effectiveness of the course. Some of the con-

1. This article also appears in A. Tsanga and J. Stewart

sistent feedback in this regard reveals that students ap-

(eds) (2011) Women and Law: Innovative approaches

preciate that we mix lectures with other interactive meth-

to teaching, research and analysis. Reproduced with

ods. Not only does the mix provide the necessary balance


in bridging the gap between theory and practice, but also

2. Janet Halley (2006) expresses reservations about the

it creates the informal and safe environment needed for

efficacy of feminism in analysing sexuality and power.

discussing sexuality. Many students have also observed in

Until alternative theories are developed, we maintain

their evaluations that this course is so central to women’s

that sex and gender currently offer the best frames for

law that it should cease to be an elective:

analysing sexuality and power.

Very essential … This course is a must for all MWL [Masters in Women’s Law] students ... It lays foundations of how the law issues impacts on gender and sexuality ... Should be part of the introductory lectures to MWL maybe soon after the Sex and Gender topic; it should not be an option.

3. Many criminal law lecturers are not gender sensitive and discuss the details of rape cases as though they were amusing, and/or blame the victim for the assault. 4. Not just any sex act but heterosexual, procreative intercourse. 5. The irony is that although the colonising countries

In future we hope to expand the curriculum to lay more

have long jettisoned or amended these laws to re-

emphasis on topics such as sexuality and disability, and

flect more equitable gender concerns, most former

sexuality and masculinities. We further plan to integrate

colonies hold on jealously to the anachronistic and

one or two field visits into the course, allowing students to

archaic laws in their bid to maintain a stranglehold

get hands-on experience with groups such as sex workers,

over women’s lives.

sexual minorities and traditional sex trainers, for exam-

6. Examples of such double standards are evident in

ple. The use of films and other audio-visual materials to

the laws governing criminal adultery, prostitution,

analyse the issues should further enrich our pedagogical

monogamy and evidentiary rules, among others.

repertoire. Needless to say, we are very eager to learn from

7. Although culturally sensitive, holistic approaches

colleagues elsewhere about teaching skills that have been

to the elimination of the practice of FGM condemn

successful in conducting similar courses.

its rights violations and the health risks associated


Danie de Jager, Symbol of freedom, 1995. Bronze. Collection of University of Pretoria.


with it, they acknowledge its positive aspects, such


as the celebration of the rite of passage and rite of ‘being’, which is crucial for people’s identity and cul-

Adomako Ampofo, A. (1999). Nice guys, condoms and

ture. Alternative rites of passage have been success-

other forms of STD protection: sex workers and AIDS

fully adopted in countries such as Kenya to maintain the underlying positive social value that the practice represents.

protection in West Africa. In Becker, C., Dozon, J., Obbo, C. and Touré, M. (eds) Vivre et Penser le Sida en Afrique/ Experiencing and Understanding AIDS in Africa, Paris, CODESRIA, IRD, Karthala, PNLS: 561–90/559-88.

8. This discussion is conducted in the context of ‘cultural relativism’ and the limitations of fitting all sexuality

Amadiume, I. (1987). Male Daughters, Female Husbands:

issues within the framework of rights claims.

Gender and sex in an African society. London: Zed Books.

9. An example of a question that keeps turning up in this basket is: ‘How do lesbians have sex?’ 10. I wrote this poem. It was inspired by a true story related to me by one of my students at Makerere Uni-

Bizimana, N. (2010). Another way for lovemaking in Africa: Kunyaza, a traditional sexual technique for triggering female orgasm at heterosexual encounters. Sexologies 19(3): 157-62.

versity. 11. This case demonstrates one woman’s defiance of patriarchal sexual norms that limit and oppress women.

Caldwell, J. (2000). Rethinking the African AIDS epidemic. Population and Development Review 26(1): 117-135.

12. A lively debate always ensues among students about whether such elongation qualifies as female genital mutilation in the definition provided by the World Health Organisation. 13. The practice is locally known as kachabali in Uganda

Cohen, D. (2000). Poverty and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: UNDP/SEPED. Coughlin, A. (1998). Sex and guilt. Virginia Law Review 84(1): 1-46.

(Tamale 2005) and kunyaza in Rwanda (Bizimana 2010).

Freire, P. (1986). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum.

This essay was published in African Sexualities: A reader (2011), edited by Sylvia Tamale and is reproduced here with permission.

Gagnon, J. (2004). An Interpretation of Desire: Essays in the study of sexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Gates, H. L. (ed) (1986). ‘Race’, Writing, and Difference.

Miller, A. & Vance, C. (2004). Sexuality, human rights

Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

and health. Health and Human Rights 7(2): 5-15.

Gordon, G. & Cornwall, A. (2004). Participation in sexual

Obbo, C. (1995). Gender, age and class: discourses on HIV

and reproductive well-being and rights. Participatory

transmission and control in Uganda. In Brummelhuis,

Learning and Action. 50: 73-80.

H. and Herdt, G. (eds) Culture and Sexual Risk:

Halley, J. (2006). Split Decisions: How and why to take a

Gordon and Breach.

Anthropological perspectives on AIDS. Amsterdam: break from feminism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Omolade, B. (1993). A black feminist pedagogy. hooks, bell (1989). Talking Back: Thinking feminist,

Women’s Studies Quarterly 15: 32-39.

Thinking black. London: Sheba Feminist Publishers. Romberg, R. (1985). Circumcision: The painful dilemma. Kariuki, W. (2005). Keeping the feminist war real in con-

South Hadley MA: Bergin and Garvey.

temporary Kenya: the case of Wambui Otieno. Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies 7,

Sisulu, E. (2000). A different kind of holocaust: a personal,

reflection on HIV/AIDS. African Gender Institute

accessed 14 July 2010.

Newsletter 7.

Law, S. (2003). What’s wrong with gay sex? 20 March,

Soto-Crespo, R.E. (1999). The bounds of hope: unlearning

“Old Eyes” and a pedagogy of renewal. Thresholds in

with-gay-sex.html?showComment=1174406580000, ac-

Education, 2, 3: 42-46.

cessed 4 December 2010. Tamale, S. (2005). Eroticism, sensuality and ‘women’s Lorde, A. (1984). Uses of the erotic: the erotic as power.

secrets’ among the Baganda: a critical analysis. Feminist

In Sister Outsider: Essays and speeches. New York: The

Africa 5: 9-36.

Crossing Press. –––– (2008). The right to culture and the culture of rights: Machera, M. (2004). Opening a can of worms: a debate

a critical perspective on women’s sexual rights in

on female sexuality in the lecture theatre. In Arnfred,

Africa. Feminist Legal Studies 16(1): 47-69.

S. (ed) Rethinking Sexualities in Africa. Uppsala: The Nordic Africa Institute.


Herman Wald, Man and his soul, cast 2012. Bronze. Collection of University of the Witwatersrand. Photo: Sally Gaule.


Andre Otto, Musaion, 1994. Bronze. Collection of University of Pretoria.


Centre for the Study of AIDS The Centre for the Study of AIDS (CSA) is located at the

and seeks to find new, innovative, creative and effective

University of Pretoria. It is a ‘stand-alone’ centre which is

ways to address HIV/AIDS in South African society.

responsible for the development and co-ordination of a comprehensive university-wide response to AIDS. The Centre

Together with the Centre for Human Rights and the Law

operates in collaboration with the deans of all faculties

Faculty at the University of Pretoria, the Centre has created

and through interfaculty committees, to ensure that a

the AIDS and Human Rights Research Unit. This research

professional understanding of the epidemic is developed

unit continues to conduct research into the relationship

through curriculum innovation and through extensive

between AIDS and human rights in Southern African


Development Community (SADC) countries, is engaged in the development of model legislation, conducts research

Support for students and staff is provided through peer-

in AIDS and sexualities and sexual rights, and is involved in

based education and counselling, through support groups

the placement of interns in various sub-Saharan parlia-

and through training in HIV/AIDS in the workplace. The

ments and with parliamentarians, to strengthen the role

CSA, in partnership with the Campus Clinic and staff at

of parliaments and governance. In collaboration with the

Pretoria Academic Hospital, offers a full antiretroviral

Faculty of Education, the Education and AIDS Research

rollout with counselling, testing and treatment. A large

Unit has been established.

number of student volunteers are involved in the various CSA programmes, as are many community groups, ASOs

The AIDS Review, published annually since 2000, addresses

and NGOs.

major aspects of the South African response to the HIV/ AIDS epidemic. Review 2000, written by Hein Marais and

To create a climate of debate and critique, the CSA pub-

entitled To the edge, addressed the complex question of

lishes widely and hosts AIDS forums and seminars. It has

why, despite the comprehensive National AIDS Plan adopted

created web and email-based debate and discussion forums

in 1994, South Africa had one of the fastest growing HIV


epidemics in the world. Review 2001, written by Tim

entitled Bodies count, looked at HIV and AIDS in the con-

Trengove Jones and entitled Who cares?, dealt with the

text of education, race and class. Review 2007, written by

levels of commitment and care – in the international com-

Patrick Eba and entitled Stigma(ta), addressed the back-

munity, in Africa and in South Africa. Review 2002, written

ground to and impact of AIDS-related stigma. Review

by Chantal Kissoon, Mary Caesar and Tashia Jithoo and

2008, written by Carmel Rickard and entitled Balancing

entitled Whose right?, addressed the relationship be-

acts, looked at the ways in which public health and human

tween AIDS and human rights in eight of the SADC countries

rights have often been pulled into tension in dealing with

and how a rights-based or a policy-based approach has

HIV and AIDS and other related health issues.

determined the ways in which people living with HIV or AIDS have been treated and the rights of populations

AIDS Review 2009, Magic, authored by Isak Niehaus and


Fraser McNeill, looked at uptake of ARVs and the forces that come into play which determine how people and commu-

Review 2003, written by Vanessa Barolsky and entitled

nities respond to the ‘magic’ of treatment – the physical

(Over) extended, evaluated age, demographic changes

effect on the body, as well as ‘supernatural’ effects.

and changing family and community structures. Review 2004, written by Kgamadi Kometsi and entitled (Un) real,

AIDS Review 2011, (B)order(s), written by Vasu Reddy,

looked at the dominant images of men in society and

looked at how sexuality is understood and constructed

focused on masculinities in the South African context.

and the ways in which barriers are erected around peo-

Review 2005, written by Jimmy Pieterse and Barry van

ple’s experience of sexuality and how sexual identity, pref-

Wyk and entitled What’s cooking?, focused on the impact

erence and practices are viewed in the dominant heter-

of HIV and AIDS on agriculture, and the politics of food

onormative society and how this affects HIV and AIDS

access and production. Also in 2005, an extraordinary

work. AIDS Review 2012, Off label, will discuss biomedical

Review, Buckling, written by Hein Marais, and dealing

technologies for HIV prevention with particular reference

with the impact of HIV and AIDS on South Africa, was

to microbicides in clinical trials.

published. Review 2006, written by Jonathan Jansen and


The CSA operates in consultation with an advisory ref-


erence group – TARG – comprised of university staff and students from faculties and service groups, as well as community representation. The CSA has furthermore developed a close partnership with a number of Southern

Centre for the Study of AIDS University of Pretoria Pretoria 0002, Republic of South Africa

and East African universities through the Future Leaders

T: +27 (12) 420 4391

@ Work Beyond Borders initiative, as well as the Imagined

F: +27 (12) 420 4395

Futures programme to develop university-based responses


that address the needs of students and staff living with


Amongst other partners, the CSA works closely with the SADC PF based in Windhoek on model legislation and issues of criminalisation, and has interns placed in other African universities. Through an extensive community-based programme in Hammanskraal paralegal and communitybased health and human rights workers are trained and supported. The CSA also has two stigma projects in Hammanskraal, through which it works with magistrates, the police and other agencies on issues of HIV and AIDSrelated stigma.


The HIV Concurrency Project: Paris Brummer, Mikayla Humphries, Daniel Malan, Pola Mazus, Jessica Metcalfe, Danielle Paul, Kylie Wentzel, Jane Matthews, Kyu Sang Lee; Handbag contents (installation), 2012. 300 Grit glossy paper. Photo: Paris Brummer. Students photographed the contents of 68 female UCT students’ handbags. By intruding on the personal space of a handbag the work exposes something that is usually considered to be private and sacred.


HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-ordination Unit (HAICU) The University of Cape Town HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-

Other strategies employed to try and create an AIDS-

ordination Unit (HAICU), based in the Transformation

competent community include: promoting ownership and

Office and the Office of the Vice Chancellor, co-ordinates

responsibility; building confidence in local strengths; and

a collaborative university response to HIV and AIDS in the

building solidarity (‘bonding’ relationships) with student

areas of management, teaching, research and social re-

groups, academic and service departments, and partner-

sponsiveness. The HIV/AIDS Unit works closely with the

ships (‘bridging’ relationships), for example with commu-

UCT Disability Unit and the Discrimination and Harrasment

nities and with other Higher Education AIDS units with


the Department of Education, etc.

The first Higher Education HIV/AIDS Unit of its kind, estab-

Aimed at ensuring that UCT graduates are able to respond

lished in 1994, HAICU projects are research led as well as

to the pandemic on both a personal and a professional

evaluated. HAICU works on building an AIDS-competent

basis, activities include curricula, co-curricula and social

community within and around UCT (Campbell 2007)¹,

responsiveness interventions. Activities include: research-

building knowledge and skills while creating safe spaces

ing HIV infection and risk behaviour among UCT students;

for dialogue to explore changing identities that may en-

mapping the UCT response to HIV/AIDS (in the areas of

able HIV prevention and treatment among staff students

research, teaching, management – including HIV testing,

and the communities they are engaged with. Universities

counselling and support for students – and university social

are populated in part by a transient population of students

responsiveness programmes and then reporting this to

who come from multiple cultures and languages. The con-

the University Council so that a co-ordinated response

cept of building a sense of belonging to a UCT community

is enabled); reviewing and steering UCT HIV/AIDS policy

that is working to prevent HIV and HIV stigma was an

implementation; running an HIV/AIDS peer education

obvious choice.

programme which is called AIDS Community Educators (ACES); conducting HIV/AIDS communication and social


awareness events on the campus; ensuring HIV/AIDS disci-

number of people who attend HAICU AIDS awareness

pline-specific curricula development and integration across

events on campus. (There are three events per annum,

all faculties; networking with other Higher Education

focusing on prevention of HIV, HIV/AIDS stigma and

Institutions to strengthen the sector; information and

gender, culture and HIV/AIDS). Building confidence in local

referral (I&R) services, and evaluation of all projects.

strengths and agency to mobilise this confidence is measured by an increase in positive perceptions of UCT re-

To understand the outcome that the programmes are hav-

sponse, as determined by qualitative feedback from the

ing, HAICU look at a range of outcome measures, i.e.

orientation week and residence workshop evaluation

expected short-term results. The following strategies of

focus groups, and through qualitative feedback from

building an AIDS-competent community are measured on

awareness events, as measured in post-event evaluation

an annual basis in the following ways by HAICU. Building

forms. Building solidarity (‘bonding’ relationships) is cap-

knowledge and skills is measured through levels of partici-

tured by the number of collaborative internal activities,

pant knowledge about targeted HIV/AIDS information by

more specifically the number of policy implementation

means of analysing orientation week HIV/AIDS pre- and

groups meetings and activities. Building partnerships

post-workshop questionnaires, as well as measuring knowl-

(‘bridging’ relationships) is measured by the number and

edge gains in curriculum integration programmes in the

evaluated quality of collaborative external activities, for

Health Sciences, Engineering and the Built Environment

example the number of Higher Education HIV/AIDS Pro-

and Commerce Faculties. Creating safe social spaces for

gramme (HEAIDS) activities.

dialogue is measured by looking at the number of students using the safe social spaces created by HAICU in HIV/AIDS

HAICU has been involved in addressing needs through con-

stigma and gender workshops at residences, as well as the

ducting a survey of HIV risk and HIV stigma-related be-

feedback from the workshop participants. It is also meas-

haviour among UCT students in 2009, which will be followed

ured by looking at the number of referrals from HAICU

up shortly. The research also allowed for the evaluation of

to Student Wellness Services for HIV/AIDS counselling.

various HAICU projects. A weighted probability sample

Promoting ownership and responsibility is measured by

generalisable to the UCT residence population was used. A

the number of people who sign up to be interviewed to

mixed method was employed involving 600 individual

become part of the AIDS Peer Education Programme

questionnaires administered in part by fieldworkers, as well

(members are selected following an interview) and the

as 20 focus groups and 30 in-depth interviews.


The HIV Stigma Project: Ruan Maree, Jane Matthews, Pola Mazus, Jess Metcalfe, Siwa Mgoboza, Caitlin Mkhasibe, Gitte Moller, Pamela Mulock-Bentley; Flowers (installation), 2012. Altered tin cans, wire, glue, red paint. Photo: Paris Brummer.

CONTACT DETAILS HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-ordination UCT

T: +27 (0)21 650 1006

University of Cape Town

F: +27 (0)21 650 3600

28 Rhodes Avenue


Mowbray 7700, Republic of South Africa



Walter Oltman, Double helix, 2007. Anodised wire. Collection of University of the Witwatersrand.

Centre for the Study of AIDS University of Pretoria Pretoria 0002, Republic of South Africa T: +27 (12) 420 4391 | F: +27 (12) 420 4395 E: |

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.