Women and Children in Portions of Africa are Being Sexually Violated by Men Who Believe That Sex With a Virgin will Cure Their AIDS-Truth!
Summary of eRumor:
This eRumor says that there is a myth in Africa, especially South Africa, that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS. It talks about an epidemic of infected males violating virgins, including children because of the belief that the younger the virgin, the more potent the cure. It references the rape of a 9-month-old by 6 men. It also says that another 9-month-old was raped and is fighting for her life. The email asks you to participate in an email petition to retain the Child Protection Unit in South Africa.
This is one of the issues TruthOrFiction.com has often cited as an example of “urban legends that kill.”
The spread of AIDS in Africa is startling and the debris in the lives of its people is heartbreaking. Jeffrey Bartholet said in the 1/17/2000 issue of Newsweek that 85 percent of the world’s deaths from AIDS in 1999 were in Africa. The life expectancy in some African countries is decreasing alarmingly. In the same issue, a different article said there are millions of orphans in Africa whose parents have died of aids and that in Sub-Sahara Africa, 6,000 men and women are dying each day of AIDS.
Added to that, however, is the rumor in parts of Africa, including large portions of South Africa, that having sex with a virgin will cleanse a male of AIDS. The Johannesburg city council conducted a three-year study of about 28,000 men. They found that 1 in 5 believed in the virgin-AIDS cure. The fallout from that is a rise in assaults of women and children, some of whom contract AIDS themselves.
Of particular alarm has been the rise in infant rapes. Not all researchers blame that on the virgin-AIDS cure myth, but they believe it has contributed to it. The rape of the nine-month-old by six men in Upington at the end of 2001 enraged many South Africans. That was followed by the discovery of a seven-month-old who had been raped and left for dead in a suburb of Capetown in November, 2001. There have been other high profile cases since.
The eRumor asks readers to add their names to an email petition to protest the closing down of South Africa’s Child Protection Unit, but South Africa’s Minister of Safety and Security, Steve Tshwete, says the unit is not being closed. That rumor got started in mid-2001 when a parliamentary committee convened to discuss the unit and observers though it meant the unit was in trouble.
Christina Jordaan, a social worker for the Department of Education in South Africa, says there is a companion myth to the virgin-AIDS cure that says that if a girl has her hymen intact, she will not contract AIDS (CBS Healthwatch, 10/2000)
Complicating the problem in South Africa is a revival of an old Zulu system of virginity testing. According to the July, 1999 issue of the AIDS Information Newsletter, tens of thousands of young people in South Africa are participating in the practice in which an adult examines a girl for evidence of virginity. Proponents say it promotes and honors abstinence, which helps cut down on sexual activity, pregnancy, and disease. Opponents say it’s like advertising the virgins to potential perpetrators. The girls who pass the test get white stars on their foreheads and a certificate of virginity.
The belief in the virgin-AIDS cure is not restricted to Africa. According to a Knight-Ridder report from Mark McDonald in January of 2000, it is also helping fuel an increase in child prostitution in Cambodia. McDonald says there are many Asian men who believe that having sex with a virgin will cleanse their AIDS. The same is true for India, according to the Fall, 1995 Harvard AIDS Review, and Jamaica, according to the Ministry of Health in Jamaica. The belief in curing AIDS by having sex with a virgin is apparently an outgrowth of a long-standing belief in many cultures in the restorative and healing powers of virgins and having sex with virgins.
Also, see TruthOrFiction.com’s focus on Internet petitions
last updated 1/3/02