Sexuality discourses in Africa


Mention sex in most places on the African continent and you are likely to be met with questioning glances. Most quietly wonder ‘What is this person up to?’ Venture into speaking about controversial sexual rights and you are likely to cause a furore. The most common reaction will ostensibly focus on their immoral or un-African nature. You will be lucky to leave the conversation unscathed, physically or otherwise.

Yet, our African reality suggests that if we are to deal effectively with the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the African continent, we must consider the tapestry of human sexuality and sexual rights issues, whether we consider them vile or not.

The 4th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, which took place in Addis Ababa in February 2010, provided an opportunity to debate diverse issues such as gender and masculinities and how they have contributed to undermining efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS in Africa.

As conference participant Julius Kaggwa noted, ‘Sexuality is an integral part of the human experience. Whether we like it or not, sex occurs 125 million times a day! It is therefore at the core of who we are as human beings. This is where human rights come in. Every human being has a right to enjoy their sexual health.’ The article below highlights some of the critical issues under discussion.

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