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Zambia: Tweeps Discuss Need For Condom Distribution in Prisons

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

Issues such as HIV/AIDS and homosexuality are emotive issues in Zambia. The former has claimed a lot of lives in the last quarter of a century and the latter is an issue that people dare not talk about publicly.

Only recently, the leader of the country's largest opposition party dared to say that Zambian laws recognised homosexuality, a statement which the ruling MMD party, pro-ruling party Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Christians have tried to use to alienate him from the electorate.

What makes the issue of homosexuality a sensitive issue is the fact that Zambia is a Christian nation, which is also reflected in the preamble of the republic’s constitution. Some Zambians on Twitter have, however, brought out an interesting aspect of the homosexuality debate – that condoms should be distributed in Zambian prisons, where sodomy is known to be practised.

Below is a Twitter conversation on homosexuality, HIV/AIDS and condom distribution in Zambian prisons.

@missbwalya:

You can't champion increased HIV funding & ignore the plight of prisoners who face great risks to their health as well.

@missbwalya:

Get off your moral high horse & see reality of HIV spread in prisons between inmates. They're humans too.

@damyna:

@missbwalya its true, is this in reference to Zed? [Zambia]

A condom on the obelisk of Buenos Aires, Argentina to commemorate World Aids Day. Image by Flickr user Erik Stattin (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A condom on the obelisk of Buenos Aires, Argentina to commemorate World Aids Day. Image by Flickr user Erik Stattin (CC BY-SA 2.0).

@senkwe:

Where is this coming from Bwalya. Which jurisdiction are you on about?

@missbwalya:

This is coming from Zambians hiding behind cloak of self righteousness that denies MSM activity in prisons & lack of HIV prevention.


@senkwe:

That's a sticky topic. Isn't homosexuality still illegal in Zambia?


@senkwe
:

Well knowing Zambia, until it's decriminalized they'll continue to turn a blind eye and say “ni zabo” (it is there problem). Can't win.

@missbwalya:

Fat chance of that happening. Don't forget we still burn suspected witches & wizards. We ain't leaving stone age anytime soon.

@senkwe:

Exactly, distributing condoms in prisons would be seen as a tacit acceptance of homosexuality in Zambia. It'll take bravery.

@missbwalya:

LPM [the late Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa] publicly acknowledged the prob & called for changes. Not sure where that went.

@senkwe:

Did they eloborate? For all we know they might have proposed prayer to rid the prisoners of ‘gay’ demons. #bwafya [it is a problem]

@missbwalya:

I can't remember all the details but it's good he even talked about it considering how we usually do!

@damyna:

This applies to Zambia & other places where dangerous denial costs lives.

The importance of this Twitter conversation cannot be over-emphasised. There are widespread rumours of sodomy in Zambian prisons, most of which were built before independence in 1964 when the population was below four million. With the nation’s population now close to 14 million, prisons nationwide are overcrowded.

Zambia’s ex-convicts come out of jail suffering from many diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and skin diseases; many of them do not live long after their release.

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

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