. Media Advocacy - South India AIDS Action Programme

Media Advocacy

Sensitizing the Media on MSM (Men Having Sex with Men) and FSW (Female Sex Workers) in Tamil Nadu

Objectives:

  • To reduce stigma and discrimination of MSM and WSS through positive portrayal in the media.
  • To sensitize media persons to adverse psychological impact of negative portrayal of MSM and WSS

Introduction:

The earlier negative portrayal of MSM and FSW in the context of their profession, sexuality, sexual preference and HIV/AIDS in the media has left indelible scars and continues to negatively impact current HIV/AIDS discourse. The words “Men having Sex with Men (MSM)” and “Female Sex Workers” (FSW) have become synonyms for “HIV transmission” leading to increased stigma and discrimination through the topics reported, and the ways in which they are portrayed. Confidentiality and freedom is restricted by such reporting, and their sexual behavior is regularly labeled as “unnatural” and “abhorrent to traditional Tamil cultural value systems,” legitimating the popular view that MSM and FSW are in fact abhorrent groups. This furthers their already stigmatized social status.

The above-mentioned portrayal results, oftentimes, in increased violence from pimps and police that drive MSM and FSW underground. This necessitates increased sexual encounters, mostly of an unprotected nature (in order to make up for the financial loss and increased medical expenses) which exposes them to further risk of STIs, HIV/AIDS. NACP III attempts to saturate targeted interventions and that can be done only when stigma and discrimination in relation to this community is addressed.

The reach of the media is far and wide and can be effectively utilized to bring about positive changes. In this project, we are working to change the attitude of the print media towards community and vice-versa representing approximately 83,414 of FSW and MSM in Tamil Nadu through a comprehensive, collaborative media sensitization campaign. This campaign helps address hidden negative attitudes through interactions with community members and a process of mentoring that will result in internalization of positive images of MSM and FSW and positive portrayals in the media.  In a holistic approach, we also address prejudices the community holds against media.   this project creates a supportive environment impacting positively on community members’ self-esteem.  It seeks to address root causes of the problem and not the symptoms alone.

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