Late last month, Population Action International (PAI) showed the world premiere of their documentary The Silent Partner: HIV in Marriage. The screening drew more than 170 community leaders, members of the media, and local and international advocates together in Nairobi, Kenya. The film examines the risk of HIV within marriage and the particular challenges facing married women. Conventional HIV prevention strategies do not meet the needs of married women who cannot practice abstinence, cannot control the faithfulness of their husbands, and find it difficult to negotiate condom use. Its main goals are to inform and provoke discussion of harmful gender and societal norms and to become an advocacy tool to mobilize political and financial support for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The release of the 12-minute advocacy film was timed to coincide with the 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender violence and World AIDS Day. Silent Partner was filmed in Kenya earlier this year with the aid of several local NGOs—the Centre for the Study of Adolescence, Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya, and Men for Gender Equality Now, as well as Pathfinder International/Kenya. In early 2009, PAI will screen The Silent Partner on Capitol Hill, with the goal of taking it on tour across sub-Saharan Africa to provoke discussion and spur action at the community and national level.