A major national newspaper recently investigated a traditional requirement that widows in Kenya often face that is being blamed for helping spread HIV/AIDS. According to the Washington Post, Kenyan widows must be "cleansed" by the village "cleanser," one of hundreds of thousands of men who sleep with widows and unmarried women who have lost a parent or child to get rid of evil spirits. According to the Post, "cleansers" are spreading HIV at high rates in villages where one in every three people is infected with the virus.
"Cleansers" can be found in various rural villages in other African countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Congo, Senegal, and Nigeria. The tradition holds that a woman who loses her husband is thought to be "unholy" and needs to be cleansed to attend funerals and/or remarry. Women's groups in Kenya, such as Standing Idle Does Not Pay, have become more powerful in recent years and have worked to rid their villages of these "cleansers."
In other news in Kenya, earlier this week dozens of Kenyan women, organized by the women's British lawyer Martyn Day, presented petitions to the British High Commission offices in Nairobi on behalf of alleged victims of rape by British soldiers, according to Agence France Presse. The petitions urged the British government to take financial responsibility for the education of the mixed-race children and demanded an independent investigation by Britain and Kenya into the alleged rape cases.
12/9/2013 Mixed Results for Afghanistan's Anti-Violence Against Women Law - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released their annual report on violence against women in Afghanistan yesterday, revealing mixed results of the country's Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
"A Way to Go: An Update on Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan [PDF]," found that there was a 28 percent increase in reports of violence against women from 2012 to 2013 , but only 17 percent of those were prosecuted under EVAW - a small 2 percent increase from last year.
The law, which was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .