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March 05, 2007

AIDS In Africa: It's Not The Gay Sex, It's The Insane Sex

Also found on St. Andrew of the Sacred Heart-Ache. Here's why AIDS is so rampant in Africa:

1. Ritual cleansing. This is not, sadly, some kind of elaborate bath. It has to do with the laying of ghosts. The belief is that when a husband dies his ghost will 'follow' his widow; and it will drive her mad unless she is 'cleansed'. Traditionally, cleansing requires the widow to have sex with a close male relative - perhaps her husband's uncle. Once this is done - often with a fee payable to the lucky uncle - the widow is deemed cleansed, and the ghost will disturb her and the family no more. Of course, if the husband died of Aids, and his widow also has the syndrome, then she will probably pass it on to Uncle.


2. 2. The secret society. ... In the villages of rural Zambia, boys who reach the age of 12 or 13 undergo a ritual that initiates them into manhood. It's the usual sort of thing - circumcision plus lectures on adult behaviour and a few tattoos. As a result of this experience, the boys of any one year form a special bond, which will last a lifetime. They call it their secret society. In future years, when one such boy visits the home of another, he will be offered, and be expected to accept, the sexual use of his host's wife. This is not considered adulterous, as long as the husband is present throughout.

3. 3. Dry sex. ...

Dry sex is what it sounds like. For reasons that baffle me and perhaps most European men, many Zambian and other African men prefer to make love to a woman when she is, or appears to be, unaroused. A truck-driver told me that he liked his partner to be `dry and tight' because it made her feel like a virgin. He found a moist vagina distasteful - `like she's making water', as he put it. To satisfy him, his girls had to be difficult to penetrate.

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that the women go along with this. The reason, I'm told, lies in the fundamental relationship between the sexes in southern Africa: the woman will do anything to make her man happy. To ensure that she is in a suitable condition when her man wants to make love, she boils up a concoction of roots, leaves and herbs, a secret recipe handed down from mother to daughter. The resulting brew has an astringent quality that both dries and firms vaginal tissue.

I think the usual reasons given for the ridiculously high rate of AIDS in Africa (1 in 5, and 1 in 3 among the young) are more important (widespread prostitution, refusal to use condoms), but those reasons -- especially #3 -- do help explain why AIDS has done in Africa what it hasn't done in any other part of the world -- explode into the general population.

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posted by Ace at 02:58 AM

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