Tanzanian Officials Shut Down Men’s Magazines for ‘Encouraging’ Spread of HIV
The New York Times today reports that the Tanzanian government has permanently shut down nine magazines and imposed a six-month ban on two others that "prominently display[ed] photographs of bikini-clad women and fill[ed] their pages with tantalizing articles and cartoons," saying that these features "encourag[ed] the spread" of HIV. Government officials, who are sponsoring an "aggressive campaign" on AIDS education, decided that the periodicals were "downright deadly" and "not just frivolous," and ordered police to seize all copies and arrest individuals who continue to publish or distribute them. Omar Ramadham Mapuri, a top government minister, announced the move, saying, "Publishing pictures of half-naked persons promotes amorous behavior and frustrates the move by the government and the society to fight against the killer disease AIDS." He added, "Editors of various media houses should display maturity in their work to save their institutions from publishing indecent materials which undermine Tanzania's esteem." But Salva Rweyemamu, chair of a Tanzanian media organization, called the move "draconian," adding that it represented a "negation of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, which are core pillars of any democratic and tolerant society." Zoe Titus, a press freedom monitor for the Media Institute of Southern Africa, added that it is "far-fetched to suggest that [the magazines] have actively contributed to the AIDS death toll." An estimated 10% of Tanzania's population lives with HIV/AIDS, with a country total of 600,000 AIDS cases and two million HIV-positive citizens (Lacey, New York Times, 8/22).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.