Consent is a clear verbal yes ,and nothing else!

According to Statistics SA’s 2014 mid- year report South Africa had 26366000 males and 276635900 females out of total population of 54002000 South Africans.

Moreover the number of people living with HIV from 2002 to 2014 increased from an estimated 4,09 million in 2002 to 5,51 million by 2014. Amongst women between the ages of 15-49, the HIV prevalence in 2014 was 18,5%  which is much higher than the HIV prevalence of 8,7% amongst youth( 15-24)

What shocks me more about these statistics is that even with all the information we have at our disposal we are failing dismally as a country to combat HIV prevelance in South Africa.

So I had a conversation with Tarryn Nell who is the HIV & AIDS coordinator at the North West University ,coordinating HIV testing ,training on HIV related topics and managing a volunteer program on campus about why women still have a higher prevelance of contracting HIV and the Grey areas of consent when it comes to sexual intimacy.

Tarryn explains that twice as many females than males get tested on campus , so it appears as if we take personal responsibility for our sexual health. However I’ve heard scary stories of women who believe that they only need to use contraceptives because they have been in a relationship with a person for a long period of time and trust them enough not to use protection.

Tarryn passionately expresses that  “Trust in an important part of a relationship ,so on the one hand yes you should be able to trust your partner so much that you believe that he is faithful, but from a professional point of view you cannot do that, because than your shifting the responsibility of your sexual health to another person”

Another reason why women are so vulnerable to HIV is the issue of consent. Women never think about the fact that consent should be free and voluntary ,as Tarryn says “consent is only really when you say yes,let’s do it”
Consent should also be continuous , if you give consent for sex today with your boyfriend, it doesn’t automatically mean that your going to have sex with him tomorrow.

Most importantly consent needs to be informed, think about your partners sexual history, know your partners HIV status , know the consequences of having sex such as unwanted pregnancy and decide on a form of contraceptive and protection.

Tarryn says she’s noticed that it also seems as if the responsibility is shifted to the women to be on a contraceptive, and it is her responsibility to go for an HIV test. Male’s don’t assume that responsibility.

However women have now been given more power than they use to have, with female condoms on the market women can determine their own standards for sexual intimacy. If a female can be assertive enough to say “I’m not having sex without a condom” condoms would actually be used. Do you think you have been giving consent for sex?

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