In The Wisdom of Whores; Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS, Elizabeth Pisani, takes an incisive look at the sex trade, HIV/AIDS preventioIn The Wisdom of Whores; Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS, Elizabeth Pisani, takes an incisive look at the sex trade, HIV/AIDS prevention strategies and the operations of national and international non-governmental organizations. Ms. Pisani, an epidemiologist who has worked with UNAIDS, the World Bank and other organizations and governments takes a no-holds barred approach to the issue. What works? What doesn’t? How can governments and multi-nationals spend their HIV/AIDS budgets more effectively?
As Ms. Pisani points out scare tactics don’t always work. Neither does ignorance. African governments were slow to respond to the crisis, slow to get the information about the disease to their populations and slow to put reduction strategies such as the distribution of condoms into effect with the result that the virus transmission rate went through the roof. With the exception of Senegal and Uganda, African societies made like or no effort to talk frankly about sex, about the risks of multiple partnering, about the need to use condoms, about the benefits of circumcision. Sexual relations in Africa happens in nets – for example, a man may have two or three wives in his compound but also has a visiting relationship with other women. By contrast, in Europe, relationships happen in ‘strings’ where a man will only have one partner at a time. These are some of the factors which hae led to sub-Saharan Africa having the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, followed by the Caribbean where similar factors, multiple partnering and an unwillingness to talk about sex, also obtain.
Ms. Pisani’s focus is mostly on Asia, however, and she explores the facts and the myths behind the spread of the disease in such countries as Thailand and East Timor. Abstinence only programmes, she points out, haven’t worked in the States and don’t work anywhere else. What works are programmes for drug injectors, men who have sex with men, and sex workers. Condom distribution programmes also work. Yet millions of people continue to contract HIV every year because, as Ms. Pisani charges, governments and NGOs don’t like spending money or time on the “wicked.” Thus, millions and millions of dollars go into prevention measures that actually do very little to prevent people from getting HIV. Instead, a weird confluence of religious leaders – the Pope, various imams, preachers, etc. – and non-governmental organizations with one eye on the enormous sums being funneled into AIDS and the other eye on each other, deliberately undermine efforts to reach the marginalized.
This is a book that should be read by government leaders, particularly those of the Caribbean where HIV/AIDS prevention seems to have fallen off the radar but where the disease continues to spread. ...more
I enjoyed this very much, not least because Anancy (Mister Nancy) was in it and it was like meeting up with a friend from childhood and thinking, "oh,I enjoyed this very much, not least because Anancy (Mister Nancy) was in it and it was like meeting up with a friend from childhood and thinking, "oh, so that's how life has gone for you."
In American Gods, Gaiman looks at what happened to all the old Norse gods, the gods of Africa, India, etc., and to the immortals - the piskies, djinns, and so on when their believers came to the New World and gradually forgot them or traded them in for new gods. In the best fantasy tradition, there is a quest (of sorts) and a hero (an ordinary guy who discovers he's not so ordinary, after all). Epic!...more
Decades ago, in the 1940s, a woman by the name of Matilda was hung for murder on the lush, green island of Dominica. Her story became the stuff of chaDecades ago, in the 1940s, a woman by the name of Matilda was hung for murder on the lush, green island of Dominica. Her story became the stuff of chante mas songs, songs sung during the pre-Lenten Masquerade and known to everyone.
Now, her grand-daughter, born in Dominica but partially raised in the United States, is back to discover the real story behind Matilda’s execution. Was Matilda really an Obeah woman with the power to heal as well as to kill? How did Matilda’s daughter, Lillian’s own mother, the beautiful Iris, lose her mind? To whom did the bones hidden in the forested mountains really belong?
Unburnable weaves together the lives of three women, Matilda, Iris and Lillian, into one amazing story of love, betrayal, murder, madness and loss, all against the background of the rich cultural history of Dominica. The vivid descriptions of the dresses, the costumes, the masquerades and the customs of the island make Unburnable a rich feast for the senses. ...more
The one thing I can say for this book is that it was a fast read! Nowadays, a lot of emphasis is placed on the pace of a book. For some reason, a lotThe one thing I can say for this book is that it was a fast read! Nowadays, a lot of emphasis is placed on the pace of a book. For some reason, a lot of people want to know that they can get through whatever they are reading quickly.
A fast read should not be confused with being a page-turner. There's a subtle difference between them. A fast read is usually very light reading which relies on a dialogue-heavy narrative. You don't often find much description or character development and the plot is not deeply intricate. A page turner, on the other hand, often has all of these elements. (Child 44, for example, was page turner. I could not put that book down!) Some fast reads are satisfying - like Jaguar Sun and Children of the Street - and Fresh Disasters would have been among them if I hadn't been gobsmacked by one particular event in the plot.
The lawyer cum private investigator, Stone Barrington, (what are parents who name their child "Stone" trying to say?) is in and out of bed with three women over the course of the book. Apparently, women can't hold onto their panties when he's around. That doesn't bother me so much as I think I'm probably not the author's audience (I'm guessing he's writing for male fantasists). What did bother me was that one of the women was killed quite horribly and Stone showed about as much emotion as, well, a stone would. I mean zero, zip. In fact, that very night he slept in the arms of another woman (out of respect, they didn't have sex) and the next morning he was making plans to hook up with her for the sex they'd missed. Huh. Clearly, in Stone's universe, women are not only disposable but are also quickly replaced.
I avoid giving two star reviews because I know authors work hard but this time "it was ok' seems about right....more