Morocco: AIDS, Money and Sex Toys

Morocco has a low prevalence of the HIV infection, compared to other African countries. According to official figures, 2,800 Moroccans have presented the symptoms of the disease, whilst 22,300 have been infected and live with the virus, since the discovery of the illness in the 1980s. A day of campaigning, information and screening of HIV/AIDS was organized throughout the country on April 25.

Looking out to Sea by gwgs on Flickr.

Looking out to Sea by gwgs on Flickr.

The country has a reputation of tolerance, and although this is mainly a young and fairly open society there are still instances of prejudices suffered by people infected with the virus, and the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS as blogger Miloud reminds us:

ينظر المجتمع المغربي إلى هؤلاء المصابين باحتقار أحيانا وبخوف في أحايين أخرى، فالمغاربة يعتبرون أن السيدا لعنة إلهية تصيب المرء عقابا على سلوكه المنحرف البعيد عن الأخلاق والدين الإسلامي، وبناء على ذلك ينبذون المصابين […] يعيشون وسط القلق والاكتئاب والميولات الانتحارية بسبب هذا النبذ الاجتماعي وعدم التفهم الذي قد يكون في كثير من الأحيان من طرف أقرب الأقرباء.

Moroccan society looks at those infected with the virus sometimes with contempt, and some other times with fear. Moroccans consider HIV/AIDS as a divine curse invoked as a punishment for deviant behavior opposed to ethics and the Islamic religion they rejected those infected […] [The victims] live in a state of anxiety and depression, with suicidal tendencies caused by this social ostracization and with a lack of compassion even, sometimes, from close relatives.

Gay-Maroc-Musul, a blog interested in Moroccan gay issues, reminds us how financing is important and explains how NGOs, including the Moroccan prominent Anti-Aids association ALCS, who have met with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on April 22nd, to ask for more funds for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, have been disappointed by the minister's response:

[Les associations] ont fait valoir que le Fond Mondial n’avait plus assez de ressources pour financer tous les projets techniquement et scientifiquement validés qui lui sont soumis par les pays les plus pauvres. Mais Bernard Kouchner a clairement exclu toute augmentation de la France au Fonds mondial, confirmant juste le maintien de son financement actuel.

The associations have put forward the fact that the Global Fund lacks resources to finance projects technically and scientifically validated, submitted to it by the poorest countries. But Bernard Kouchner has clearly excluded any increase in France's [participation] in the Global Fund, and has only confirmed that his country will carry on contributing at its present level.

The HIV-AIDS pandemic has undeniably transformed the approach of many countries toward sexual questions that have long been considered taboo, especially in conservative societies. And as the Moroccan society tries to figure out the best way to fight the infection, and as discussions on sexual matters get more and more open throughout the blogosphere, we learn about signs of “sexual emancipation” as some would call it. According to Vanessa Pellegrin, a journalist based in Casablanca and blogging on the collective blog Casawaves:

Contrairement aux idées reçues, les marocaines (surtout celles âgées entre 20 et 25 ans) sont friandes [de sextoys]. Mis à part les commandes privées faites à une amie qui s’envolerait pour l’Europe, et qui ramènerait avec elle un jouet coquin sous le manteau, il existe de vrais réseaux, parfaitement discrets et organisés qui se chargent de vendre ces jouets pour adultes.

Contrary to preconceived ideas, Moroccan women (especially those aged between 20 and 25) are fond of sex toys. Apart from private orders passed through a friend flying over to Europe and who might bring back some naughty toy under the coat, there are real networks perfectly discreet and organised set up for selling those adult items.

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