HIV is an epidemic everywhere, but perhaps nowhere is this more true than in Malawi. With a population of 14.8 million, close to 1 million are living with HIV. The Malawi government has stepped up its efforts to combat HIV over the years, but this newest attempt at prevention seems more than a little misguided.
Mwana Palibe, a cultural belief very popular in the lower shire districts of Nsanje and Chikhwawa has been named as one of the contributing factors to the wide spread of HIV and AIDS in the two districts.The belief, which prohibits couples from exercising their conjugal rights unless all the children who live in that particular house are in, is very popular among the Mang’anja people.
People of the two districts believe that once this tradition is breached, children fall ill from Kwashiorkor like diseases and they eventually die.
But speaking after Journalist Association Against Aids in Malawi, a grouping of media practitioners in the fight against Aids, visited the district, Traditional Authority Mlilima of Nsanje said there was no harm in couples having sex in the absence of their children.
“There is no any other connection in couples enjoying in bed and children falling ill. These are some of the beliefs we must eliminate if we are to win the fight against AIDS,” said the chief.
The association’s Chairperson Deogratias Mmana said the custom fires up men to be seeking relief outside their matrimonial circles.
“This is very dangerous because men can be tempted to go behind their wives and seek relief to other women, a thing which can accelerate the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country,” he said.
Wow, blaming wives for the spread of AIDS by cheating spouses, that’s rich! Ultimately, they’re saying “No no, your children won’t get ill and die if you have sex with your husband. They’ll get ill and die if you DON’T have sex with your husband.” I can’t imagine this message going over well, anywhere, or having any impact on the spread of HIV and AIDS.by