Zika: The First Sexist Virus
You’ve probably heard about the newest world health crisis: the Zika virus. This frightening epidemic negatively impacts pregnant women, often causing children to be born with microcephaly and other defects. The incidence of Zika in Latin American countries — especially El Salvador, which currently has the highest outbreak statistics— has resulted in a surprisingly unequal Zika virus prevention campaign. Read on to learn how the most affected countries are handling this global health issue, and Zika’s consequences for women.
As it turns out, the ad campaigns for preventing the spread of Zika in regions afflicted with outbreaks are often quite misogynistic. The ads target women specifically, and put pressure on women to practice safer sex, without actually offering the resources to do so. Although they should be equally responsible for safe sex, men are not given the same level of attention by the media when it comes to curbing this crisis. Even worse, many of the areas with high illness rates – such as Argentina – have entirely run out of condoms, so it’s more difficult to practice safe sex. Major condom brands are stepping up to help with the Zika outbreak, since it’s now clear that the virus can apparently be transmitted sexually as well as via mosquito bites.
As a result of Zika outbreaks in more than 26 countries, women’s rights activists are hoping this will force conservative governments to rethink their stance on abortion. In some countries where abortion is entirely illegal, pregnant women infected with Zika are forced to get abortions in inappropriate and unsanitary conditions. Even in seemingly progressive countries such as the U.S., abortion law is still controversial and often discriminatory against women’s reproductive rights. But this health scare is developing into something that affects the population as a whole, and the rising number of Zika cases will ideally cause governments to change strict abortion laws.
This article was originally published on Fusion.com and has been adapted for LatinaMoms.