Your Husband is Dead–Now Let’s Have Sex

Today’s NY Times front page includes a frustrating story that helps explain why one out of every five people in Malawi have the AIDS virus. It is a tradition of male relatives and others having “cleansing sex” with widows after their husbands die. Just as the wife is recovering from her loss, she must sleep with a stranger or another man, to fulfill the belief that it will exorcise her dead husband’s spirit. And conveniently, the spell won’t go away if they use a condom.

Stupid beliefs and traditions like this are why so many people on this continent are dying. Another is the regular practice of ‘dry sex’ where women put substances in their privates to make it rougher, and dryer, which many African men prefer. And the cursed belief that sex with a virgin “cures” AIDS, that has lead to thousands of raped infants and pre-pubescent girls in South Africa and other countries.

Africa is full of these vexing cultural binds, where people are becoming victims of their own archaic and dangerous superstitions and cultural practices.