Accepted Paper:

Cultural sensitive introduction of HIV/AIDS prevention by initiation ritual of rural girls in Mozambique  


Sophie Kotanyi (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg)
Brigitte Krings-Ney (Universidade Católica de Mocambique)

Paper short abstract:

HIV counselling in initiation rites is based on a dialogue between nurses and godmothers. Contradictions must be managed between the nurses who must overcome their "splitting" and the godmothers who are torn between the biological contamination and the local paradigms of impurity and prevention.

Paper long abstract:

HIV/AIDS prevention in Mozambique has a low efficacy rate. The national strategic plan to control HIV/AIDS criticizes that prevention messages are not culturally adequate and cannot lead to a safer behaviour. Anthropologists` question how can the positive aspects of tradition be used for HIV/AIDS prevention? Initiation rituals of girls are practiced in 7 from 11 provinces; they teach sexuality (without mutilation) and how to be a responsible human being. Initiation rites represent culturally the best recognised context to speak about sexuality and moral (prevention) behaviour. To introduce bio security HIV/AIDS prevention counselling in initiation rites implies a dialogical communication between biomedical nurses and initiation godmothers, women healers, on verbal and on mostly non-verbal forms. Dances and songs are the main communication forms together with the verbal traditional counselling. It is a process that teaches through diverse stages the girls since they reach 7-9 years old, through transition ritual, marriage and until the first baby. The complementary introduction of biosecurity counselling in the initiation imply the management of diverse contradictions; biomedical trainer nurses (with "splitting" problematic between modernity and tradition) should learn to be open and able to bridge between the traditional and the biosecurity paradigms. The initiation godmothers/healer women have to deal with contradictions between the biological contamination concept and the local paradigm of impurity, danger and prevention -, with their own neglecting of the promotion of the use of condoms.

This approach provoke an empowerment-process of women in their communities.

Panel W014
From medical pluralism to therapeutic plurality: medical anthropology and the politics of diversity, knowledge, and experience from multiple perspectives