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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
SA women 'claim rape for drugs'
HIV-positive girl - her mother died of an Aids-related illness
More people are infected in South Africa than in any other country
A South African health official has accused women of lying that they have been raped in order to get free Aids drugs.

But Aids activists are sceptical about the comments by the Northern Cape provincial Health Minister Dipuo Peters.

Anti-retroviral drugs are available to rape victims but have not yet been introduced for all South Africans living with HIV, despite years of pressure.

However, earlier this month the government announced that it would introduce anti-retroviral drugs to people living with HIV and Aids.

Anti-retroviral drugs are not pleasant
Nathan Geffen
Aids activist

South Africa has one of the highest reported rates of rape in the world. By the age of 16, one in four girls faces the prospect of being raped, according to the child support group, Childline.

The provincial health minister said that those who make false rape allegations should be charged for wasting government time and resources, reports the South African Press Association.

Each treatment costs an estimated R1400 ($190), she said. "Already we have serial 'victims' who serially withdraw charges (against their alleged rapists)," Ms Peters said.

'Perverse incentive'

"Let's see the evidence first," Nathan Geffen from Aids campaign group Treatment Action Campaign told BBC News Online.

Protesters march in Durban over government inaction on Aids/HIV treatment

"She's claiming there is a perverse incentive but I don't think there is," he said.

"Anti-retroviral drugs are not pleasant... and not healthy if you are HIV negative."

He said that condoms are a more convenient way of halting the spread of HIV.

Some 4.7 million South Africans, one in nine, are infected with HIV/Aids - more than in any other country.

Rape is also widespread in South Africa, with statistics showing that women are more likely to be sexually abused, than to learn how to read.


A selection of your comments is published below.

Wouldn't you do the same? Why should anyone have to lie to get life-saving treatment? It is our votes and our taxes which allow the these powerful pharmaceuticals to invest in the R&D and produce these drugs. Is it too much to expect that our governments want to keep us healthy? These health ministers should take a walk around and get back in touch with the people that they serve.
Robyn Davies, UK

Mbeki and his government are not as stupid as everyone thinks. They have simply run the numbers and concluded that the country cannot afford to pay for the treatment of every infected person.
Sipho Mahlaba, South Africa

It is easy to criticise South Africa's policy which discriminates by only providing medecines to the victimes of rape. What everyone should understand is that there is not an easy solution to the problem of HIV. The companies which have invested a lot of money are after an adequate return on investment, and if they do not get it you can be sure there won't be any new medecines for any of these sick people. Let the market dictate the price.
Placide Matsiaba, Gabon

It is disgusting that the government can accuse a woman already stricken with Aids that she is faking a rape to get drugs. Only someone totally detached from the brutal realities of life for women in SA could believe this. For God's sake!! Wake up! Treat the sick, regardless of their sex or how they got sick, save your people for crying out loud and stop trying to find reasons to let them die... it is beyond belief how far things can go in the struggle to deny responsibility toward the public... have they sunk that low?
Diane Cavallero, Belgium

It is easy for those in the West to criticise the government in SA, primarily because it allows us to forget our own part in this tragedy. The drugs are handed out selectively because they are expensive, they are expensive because of the vast profits the drug companies make, and the drug companies make these profits because we, in the West, allow them to do so. To stop Aids spreading in SA, and Africa, and the 3rd world, a change must come not in SA, nor Africa, but the whole world.
Andrew Miller, Scotland

It's perverse to think that women who have a constitutional right to life saving treatment must first get raped to have access to ARVs.
Ebba Kalondo, Namibia

Working with these victims is what pushed me to leave the country because of people who held positions of "power" that made the choices for them. "NO" remains "NO" and many of these victims have never had a voice, is it not time that they speak out. An example I had a client who was 15 years old and had contracted HIV from her mother, should she really be excluded??
Careen Coetzee, Canada ex Johannesburg

This is ploy by the government to shift blame for its failure to provide needed medicines onto the victims of HIV/AIDS. I hope they will not get away with this tired trick of shifting attention to the supposed "immorality" of women's sexuality, rather than being accountable for their REAL immorality in the AIDS crisis.
Amy Agigian, USA

I do not blame the women if they are pretending to be raped to obtain these drugs. If my government denied me access to a drug which would SAVE MY LIFE, I'm not sure I would not do more than lie to obtain it.

If the women are taking the drug, and do not need to (meaning they do not have HIV), then this also reflects back on the government. Where is the education? These women are surviving in the only manner they know. Are they thriving? No. They are surviving.
Steph, USA

Mbeki's Aids Strategy has been abhorant resulting in the huge % of infected people. The pharmaceutical companies are no better... when will we learn the basic lessons of every religion and philosophy...respect, compassion and responsibility for our earth??
Jeff, California ex Cape Town

If this accusation is true, then we live in a sick world in which any person must lie to save their life... if it is false, then the world is much sicker than I could ever have imagined.
Melissa, USA

You are all forgetting the cold hard facts of life. Drugs cost money to develop and produce. Drug companies have wages to pay, so they cannot give drugs away for free. All drugs have to be paid for.
Tracey, UK

I'm Nigerian and from my experience; a lot of African women who are really raped do not report it! Rape still carries a stigma in a lot of African countries. Africans sometimes say no when they mean yes ( im talking from experience) A man has to be a psychologist to know when she means NO!

It is not like in the west where women sometimes initiate sexual encounters. A woman once told me; "you give up too easily, women feel better when you put some "pressure" on them". because of my upbringing, i do NOT try to convince or con women into sex. some other men may not be so accomodating.
Chiedu Ikedionwu, Nigeria

I'm sorry Chiedu Ikedionwu am not sure what part of Nigeria you are from. No means no however you want to translate it, if you think it means otherwise there is something very wrong with your epistemology regarding relationship b/w men and women. Regarding the stigma of rape with individuals still holding on the ideology that it should not be reported as its the African way somehow lieu to the idea that its the woman's fault then nothing will ever change. RAPE is not the Fault of the woman and she has nothing to be ashamed of!!!
Asia D'angel, Nigeria

Let the government not discrimate because weather raped or not, the fact still remains when you are infected you are infected. Free medicines to all since we are one in sickness in health.

It doesnt matter what the story behind the infection is let us try to halt the spread of this dreadful disease by playing it safe every time.
Lucy Kakungu, Zambia

The Aids problem is somthing that the government has known about for the best part of the last decade. I think that the underlying problem is that the ANC government has in its ranks many individuals who are mediocre and only wish to save their own positions. Nobody is willing to stand up and make the tough choices. Absolute power has corrupted absolutley.
William Dos Santos, Canada ex South African




SEE ALSO:
Grim Aids warning for S Africa
04 Aug 03  |  Africa
Q&A: South Africa and Aids
04 Aug 03  |  Africa
SA anti-Aids drug shock
31 Jul 03  |  Africa
Rape - silent war on SA women
09 Apr 02  |  Africa


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