AIDS still a major concern
A recent report said more than 450 grandmothers from 12 African countries were compelled to raise their grandchildren alone because the children’s parents had died of HIV/AIDS. (“Grandmothers from all over Africa hold summit on AIDS,” May 5, page 6).
AIDS in South Africa is a matter of great concern. A BBC report mentioned that “AIDS has now reached epidemic levels in South Africa; one in five of the population is living with HIV. In the townships, it’s thought the figure is far higher; possibly as high as 70 percent in some areas.”
A large number of African people are HIV-positive and most of them eventually die of AIDS, especially in South Africa. More than half of females are infected with AIDS when they are about 25. The severest sadness is many African babies and children die of AIDS before the age of five.
“Every day almost 10,000 Africans are infected with HIV/AIDS,” the BBC report said.
As the South African government has come under criticism for the high death rate of babies and young children, the government has begun to focus on the AIDS crisis. AIDS is a major public health concern for the whole world. We should bring love to Africa just like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been doing. Love is important; African people need love from people worldwide.
More importantly, what Africa truly needs is proper education for all. Governments worldwide should help African governments educate their people about sexual attitudes, correct behavior and AIDS-related knowledge.
As the 63rd World Health Assembly is in session in Geneva this month, it is imperative that the WHO focus its agenda on the AIDS crisis. Failure to successfully cope with this epidemic might spark another global health crisis in the future.
An article in Wednesday’s paper clearly revealed the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) political priorities (“Legislators approve laws on trade and environment,” May 19, page 3).
The newly passed Environmental Education Act (環境教育法) obliges government officials and staff to take four hours of environmental protection classes each year.
Four hours? If this almost-nothing commitment is not evidence enough, a series of recent environmentally disastrous decisions, including the development of one of Taipei’s last green areas (the 202 Munitions Works), shows the environment is at the bottom of the KMT’s priorities.
High on its priority list, however, is the increasing use of draconian laws, including the suggestion by KMT Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) to keep offenders convicted of sexually assaulting children behind bars for a minimum of 20 years without parole or sentence them to life or the death penalty without the possibility of a pardon. This is inexcusable pandering to public opinion.
First, it would extend the death penalty to a crime in which nobody died. Second, sexual assault lends itself to wrongful convictions even more easily than other crimes (“When death penalties go wrong,” May 19, page 8), because, unless convictions are based on hard physical evidence, testimony by outraged parents and suggestible children can easily convict someone who is innocent.
Finally, Yang’s comment that she “would rather put aside the offenders’ human rights to protect children’s human rights” shows a regrettable misunderstanding, because human rights belong to all, not just those deemed good and virtuous. Such ill-advised statements reveal a dangerous attitude whereby human rights can all too easily be “put aside” for offenders and troublemakers, including political ones.
Yang should take a few introductory classes on human rights in addition to her four hours of environmental education.
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