Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Aid my ass.

So there's this:

"Bush said U.S. aid to Africa has tripled during his tenure" (CNN online, June 8, 2005)

"Mr Bush has pledged $15bn to fight HIV/Aids, primarily in Africa, over the next five years." (BBC Online, July 8, 2003)

And the most egregious:

AIDS alone has left at least 11 million orphans in sub-Sahara Africa.

The Bush Administration launched the Global AID Fund and initially contributed $200 M.

Today the Administration has committed $500M for FY02 and 03.

The Administration is providing approximately $1B in FY02 and 03 for global HIV/AIDS." (Whitehouse.gov)

I'm touched. Really. The Bush Admin trumpets again and again the fact that they are giving more aid to Africa, in monetary terms, than the Clintons. But I don't have to tell you that it's not just the amount of money that counts, it's what you do with it.

See, the Bushies are in thrall to the Religious Right. And while we all may suffer here for that allegiance, third-world, AIDS-ridden nations are suffering all the more. Why? Because the beloved Bushies REFUSE TO GIVE MONEY TO AID ORGANIZATIONS THAT PROMOTE CONTRACEPTION AS A MEANS OF THWARTING THE TRANSMITTAL OF THE HIV VIRUS.

But say that the sex you have is not the result of your proclivities, but the difficult, powerless situation in which you find yourself. Here in America we have the rule of law; women who are sexually abused can bring charges against their aggressors; there is punishment for men who take advantage. But in, say, Uganda? Not so much.

What if abstinence isn't an option for you? Or what if, even if you remained abstinent until marriage and faithful during your marriage, your partner does not?

Instead of promoting practical measures to avoid the transmittal of HIV/AIDS in many parts of the world where sex is currency and abstinence not an option, "abstinence-only" programs completely ignore the situation on the ground in these places and promote Christian morality at the expense of peoples lives.

Human Rights Watch honored a Ugandan woman this year who advocates for the rights of women and children affected by HIV/Aids. Beatrice Were contracted HIV/AIDS from her husband to whom she was faithful. One of the first Ugandan women to openly declare her HIV positive status, Beatrice fights against the "abstinence-only" programs that the US and US-funded agencies promote exclusively across Africa.

"Since 2004, Ms. Were has worked with Human Rights Watch and other organizations to highlight Uganda's recent and dramatic backslide in HIV-prevention policy. Uganda earned international praise for its highly successful HIV prevention programs in the 1990s. But the country has recently embraced U.S.-funded “abstinence-until-marriage” programs which deny young people information about any method of HIV prevention other than sexual abstinence until marriage, including information about condoms." (Human Rights Watch: Uganda)

This is the brave African aid package that the President trumpets. Not only is the HIV situation not getting better- it is getting worse on his watch. Bush should be ashamed- in this as in much of Bush's domestic and foreign policy, the President imposes a narrow Christian morality on a world he doesn't, and doesn't care to, understand. This willful ignorance is not only pathetic, it's dangerous. And cruel.

Beatrice Were spoke to us at the LA Human Rights Watch dinner. She spoke plainly about her own life and Uganda's struggles. I was both impressed with her courage and ashamed for my country- conflicting feelings that I've had a lot, lately.


At 11:46 AM, Blogger wunelle said...

Lies and spin and mythology. Welcome to the New Dark Age.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Unsane said...

Interesting commentary. This kind os right wing stupidity is rampant in the world ...


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