Along the northern border between Botswana and Namibia, in a region of Africa that is raging with AIDS, a small society of some 3,000 souls, the Ju/'hoansi (or !Kung) is living virtually free of HIV infection. According to research by anthropologist Richard Lee, the reason is gender equality, the Toronto Star reports.
Lee is going to present his findings tomorrow, Monday, at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto. He says the high status of women in the Ju/'hoansi society gives them significant autonomy in choosing their sexual and marriage partners:
In the other societies around the region, the young men will say, `Oh no, a girl has to obey me if I want to have sex with her, and if I don't want to use a condom, that's it,'. With the Ju/'hoansi, their high status in the community gives women plenty of leverage in sexual negotiations.
Before the age of AIDS the Ju/'hoansi were famous in anthropology for being among the last hunting and gathering people in the world. Hunter-gatherers typically granted women significant respect and status, he says.
>> read the whole story in the Toronto Star
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