17 April 2001

Swaziland: Church Leaders Say Aids Activists Too Sexually Explicit

Mbabane, Swaziland — Religious leaders in Swaziland this week accused HIV/Aids awareness campaigns of being sexually explicit and promoting "sexual immorality".

"Even if you are a religious person, pastor or a priest, you cannot help but get sexually aroused by the explicit visual materials they distribute," said Pastor Johannes Zwane at an annual Easter gathering at the weekend.

"You feel like having sex when you look at the material or attend these AIDS awareness campaigns," he added, drawing agreement from fellow religious leaders.

He urged Aids awareness activists to consider toning down the content of their visual materials, and curb the disease without promoting "sexual immorality, which is heathen." President of the Swaziland AIDS Support Committee, SASO, Hannie Dlamini, said the religious leaders were "wallowing in a dam of ignorance".

He said the disease had reached alarming proportions and there was no time for sweet talk, but straight facts.

"These old people are caught in a time warp," he said. "It's true that the (material) is explicit, but what is wrong about that? How should a health worker demonstrate how to put on a condom except to use a wooden phallus shaped like a male penis to drive the point home?"

He said the religious outcry indicated that the battle against the pandemic was far from being won.

"If such sentiments still exist from people in leadership positions like priests, then the pandemic will kill us all, both the religious and heathen."

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