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Social cultural factors in HIV/AIDS transmission among women in Rwanda .

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par Jean paul NTEZIRYAYO
Kigali Institute of Education - Bachelors degree of Sciences  2009

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+ What are the social cultural factors and cultural practices that influence the transmission of HIV/AIDS in women?

+ What are the constraints of HIV/AIDS among the women? + How can these constraints be overcome?


The findings of this study will help: the policy maker, planners, administrator, teachers and non-governmental organization in Rwanda to understand and study the problems associated with HIV/AIDS transmission among the women in Rwanda caused bye the social cultural factors. Those concerned with reducing poverty need to understand :

> How poverty enhances vulnerability to HIV infection.

> How poverty affects women and men, girls and boys differently.

> How HIV/AIDS enhances poverty and how this is experienced differently by boys and girls, men and women

> Etc


While conducting a research on culture, it is not very easy to use all populations. And this research is conducted for the women who are married or widow with years between 21 and 35. as the culture are common for a whole country, this research can not take a whole atmosphere of a country, that is why a researcher is limited and conducted in RUGALIKA sector.


v Marriage: The definition of marriage depends on not only the historical period, but also on the geographical location and the cultural traditions of the individuals involved in the marriage relationship. A general definition of marriage is that it is a social contract between two individuals that unites their lives legally, economically and emotionally8.

· Polygamy
: An illegal practice of having more than one wife or husband during the same time, more precisely having more than two spouses at the same time. This is considered crime in most states and communities9.

v Early marriage: Early marriage refers to any form of marriage that takes place before a child has reached 18 years. In Rwanda it is under 21 years old10.

v Gender-based Violence: Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life (UNESCO 1999 p.53)11.

«...Violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are force into a subordinate position compared with men» (UNESCO 1999 p.52).

8 www./





Women and girls, particularly from poor communities are among those with enhanced vulnerability to HIV infection as a result of unequal gender relation and gender inequality. Gender norms that create an unequal balance of power between women and men are deeply rooted in the social cultural context of each society and are enforced by that society's institutions, such as schools, workplaces, families and health systems12.

Gender norms ascribe distinct productive and reproductive roles to men and women through social constructions of masculinity and femininity that vary by class, ethnicity, sexuality and age in every society; despite the existence of multiple masculinities and femininities, it is the dominant ideology that most greatly influences women's and men's attitudes and behavior13. The implication of HIV/AIDS pandemic will affect women differently because of their gender roles. As girls will be at risk of infection because of entrenched social and economic vulnerability; as mothers they are blamed for infecting their babies; as care givers they bear the burden of supporting and caring for those infected. Many ill women may be forced to ignore their own needs so as to meet the needs of other family members14

The International Council of AIDS Service Organization (ICASO) was of the view that vulnerability to HIV influenced by male dominance, and HIV and AIDS are both propelled and entrenched by gender inequality. The power underlying any sexual interaction, (heterosexual, homosexual or transgender) determines how sexuality is expressed and experienced. Power determines whose pleasure is given priority and when, how and with whom sex takes place.15 Their inability to negotiate safe sex and other social pressures becomes a critical channel of vulnerability for a number of married adolescent girls.

12 wingood and diclemente.2000

13 Letia a. p. ;sheri c. ;rosemary c. v. ;pamela l.taylor.(1999)


15 sami tchack.1999.p60

According to the research made by UNAIDS (2005), gender and sexuality put women, men and sexual minorities at risk of HIV.

Vulnerability to HIV arises from a coming together of biological, structural (social cultural, economic and political) and infrastructural (programs and services) factors. Vulnerability refers to the likelihood of being exposed to HIV infection because of a number of factors or determinants in the external environment, some of which are beyond the control of person or particular social group. Biologically, women are more exposed to HIV infection than men. Male to female transmission of HIV is between two and four times more efficient than female to male16. And the young women are especially vulnerable to HIV infection through sexual intercourse because the immature genital tract of girls is more likely to tear during sexual activity, creating a higher risk of HIV transmission17. In addition, biological risk factors are crushed by social cultural economic and political factors. Gender and sexual inequalities also affected access to and interaction with health services, including those for HIV prevention, treatment and care. The implications of the HIV/AIDS pandemic will affect women differently because of their gender roles.

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