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The Female Face of AIDS: Crisis in Malawi - Reviews

Video Librarian - March/April 2009

The Female Face of AIDS: Crisis in Malawi ***
(2008) 33 min. In English & Chichewa w/English subtitles. DVD: $49.95. Choices, Inc. PPR. ISBN: 978-1-933724-26-3.
In The Female Face of AIDS, four law professors and eight students representing Fordham University’s Leitner Center for International Law and Justice shed light on the human rights issue of the mistreatment of women with HIV/AIDS in Malawi, Africa. During their fact-finding mission, members of the group speak with over a hundred HIV+ women, men, and children, as well as a few experts. Aside from significant health concerns and reduced life expectancies, the women must also contend with stigma and discrimination, ranging from domestic abuse to being ostracized and losing property. Malawi men, who may have several wives or girlfriends, tend to avoid protection, which they see as an admission of infection, rather than as a preventative measure. Here, a vegetable-grower named Eliza laments that her husband left her and their three children after he found out she was HIV+—even though she remained faithful (she doesn’t know if he was tested). As Daphne, a schoolteacher who founded Coalition of Women Living with HIV, points out, “Women’s lack of economic power makes them more vulnerable.” To which U.N. Resident Coordinator Michael Keating adds a sad note: “There are something like a million orphans in this country.” On the positive side, however, thanks to greater awareness, many of the women in this film are receiving the medical attention they need. DVD extras include a photo gallery and a downloadable lesson plan and guidebook. A solid primer on an important topic, this is recommended.Aud: C, P. (K. Fennessy)


Booklist - March 2009

The Female Face of AIDS: Crisis in Malawi.
Dec 2008. Choices, DVD, $49.95. (9781933724263).

The Republic of Malawi in southeast Africa may be rich in uranium, coal, and bauxite, but it is poor in such economic and health areas as average income (less than $1 per day), life expectancy (age 39.6 for women), and infant mortality rate. Estimates show that 14 percent of women ages 13 to 39 suffer from AIDS. In 2007 four professors and eight students from the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School traveled to Africa to “document stigma and discrimination against the women of Malawi who are HIV positive.” Shot on location in the District of Mangochi, this documentary personalizes the stories of several infected women and children. This film also includes clips from interviews with male villagers, local AIDS activists, educators, and government officials in an effort to paint an accurate picture of the extent of the problem and prospects for the future. Bonus features include a photo picture gallery.

A powerful discussion starter for social-studies and world-geography students.
— Carol Holzberg


Educational Media Reviews Online

Reviewed by Sue F. Phelps, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Female Face of Aids Review from EMRO  Highly Recommended

Date Entered: 1/29/2009

Faculty and students of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School traveled to Malawi during the final weeks of a year long study on gender, HIV/AIDS, human rights, and the culture and history of Malawi. They were there to interview 100 HIV positive women about their experience living with the diagnosis. This DVD brings the viewer along on their trip to Malawi through clips from those interviews, scenes from the daily life and celebrations of the Malawi people. It is an excellent visual representation of the team’s full report which can be found on the Leitner website titled, “We Will Still Live: Confronting Stigma and Discrimination Against Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi.”

The interviews reveal the stigma of HIV/AIDS in the community, the discrimination found in social programs and the response of the legal system to the 14% of adults, 60% of whom are women, reported to be HIV positive. Most of the women report the stigma and discrimination of the disease is made worse by the culture’s treatment of women in general. Men are also interviewed regarding the cultural practice of multiple marriage, extramarital girlfriends, and the refusal to use protection from disease. One child who is HIV positive talks about the loss of both parents and the treatment he suffers from other children as well as the expectations of the family who is caring for him.

Though the issues are discussed at length and the situation of the women is grim there are also some positive responses to the crisis. It is clear that one of the primary contributors to the stigma and prejudice against those who are HIV positive is the ignorance regarding the disease. There is one clip from a school where young women are being taught the facts about AIDS and HIV resulting in their being empowered to take care of themselves within cultural boundaries. There is also a women’s support group through which woive Malawian language. Because interviews are interspersed with clips of celebration and daily Malawian life the difficult content is made mmen with HIV/AIDS are teaching newly diagnosed women how to live with the disease. Legal interventions are addressed from the perspective of legal services and the promotion of anti-discrimination legislation.

The audio and video qualities are excellent with the use of some artistic touches throughout. Where accents are difficult to understand there are subtitles as well as when interviewees are speaking in the nat

anageable for the viewer. Special features include a photo gallery of stills from the DVD and a URL to direct you to the Choices website for a guidebook.

This DVD would enhance collections in support of social justice, public health, women’s studies, African studies, human rights, and HIV/AIDS.

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