This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

South African Men’s ‘Sex With Young Virgin’ AIDS Cure Belief

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Avnish Gaurav explores the harsh reality of the African myth.

When a wheel rotates, different points on the wheel rotate in different directions. Same is the case with man made vicious circle, as a result of which different geographical locations progress or perish in a different manner. The difference between the two lies only in the justice mooted out to the various points (locations). The intent is, there are parts on earth that have been and are still deteriorating in all aspects, with time.

What you are going to read may send shivers down your spine. But this is a fact and many innocent people are mute victims of such horrendous atrocities. There is a myth in AFRICA that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS. The younger the virgin, the better the cure. The reasoning is that the blood produced by raping a virgin will cleanse the virus from the infected person’s blood. This has led to an epidemic of rapes by infected males, with the correspondent infection of innocent kids. Many have died in cruel rapes. Recently in Cape Town a nine month old baby was raped. AIDS has already created 8,200,000 orphans in the world, most of them in Africa. By next year the UN Aids Program expects there to be 13 million Aids orphans. In Uganda, one of the first countries to experience an AIDS epidemic, 11 per cent of children are AIDS orphans – compared with a typical orphan rate of 2 per cent. In Zimbabwe, where one quarter of the general population is infected, between 40 and 50 per cent of pregnant women are HIV positive – threatening a further big increase in the number of orphans.

Africa is a land with social problems, that makes it ripe for a rape culture to root itself, ones that have nothing to do with the folkloric belief in the curative power of virgins. Poverty, alcohol abuse, teenage motherhood, family instability, anger in violence prone society, male sexual entitlement, the perception of females as lesser beings-all work in tandem to create and perpetuate an environment where rape is viewed as a forgivable social evil.

Teenage girls in Africa are the most vulnerable section of society, being six times more likely to be HIV positive than boys of the same age. In South Africa, infection rates among girls aged between 15 and 19 years have increased from 12.7 per cent in 1997 to 21 per cent in 1998 – one of the fastest rates of HIV increase anywhere in the world. Babalwa Tembani is a proof that the myth surrounding AIDS can be as deadly as the epidemic itself. When she was 14, she was raped by an uncle. The crime left Babalwa, now 21, HIV-positive and dependent on antiretroviral AIDS drugs to prolong her life. According to BBC NEWS, a girl was raped by her father when she was two years old. She is now eight, and an orphan, as her father died in prison after the rape was reported by her mother, who has also died. In yet another incident a 14-year-old was raped by her uncle and left pregnant. She was thrown out of the house by her aunt and had an abortion after six months. There were complications and she has been ill ever since.

The myth of the Virgin Cure has a rich and culturally diverse history stretching back to 16th century Europe, and more prominently to be found in 19th century Victorian England, where, in spite of the emphasis on morality, rectitude and family values, there existed a widespread belief, that sexual intercourse with a virgin was a cure for syphilis, gonorrhea, [and other STD’s].

Syphilis, like HIV/AIDS, was fatal in its terminal stages. In the Eastern Cape of South Africa, when a significant outbreak of STD’s was spread by troops returning home from overseas after second World War, the Virgin Cure was widely sought among the population. A study conducted by WOMEN’S HEALTH PROJECT few years back in Galeshewe, a small township in Kimberley, Northern Cape, attempted to get to the bottom of how strong this belief was and how much it predicated attacks. They found that there were basically three theories motivating rape: CLEANSING, PREVENTION & VENGEANCE. The cleansing theory is the belief that sleeping with a virgin can cure a man of HIV. The prevention theory leads men to choose young girls as partners because they believe they cannot get HIV from a virgin. The vengeance theory is that rape occurs as a result of men spreading the HIV virus, so that they will not have to die alone.

Besides stigmatizing the African society it has caused a rapid spread of AIDS. This explosive spread of AIDS threatens to undermine the health and social improvements of the past 20 years, causing widespread economic collapse across the entire region. The child abuse situation is now reaching catastrophic proportions and calls for urgent and earnest action.

This heart wrenching evil requires us to get together and voice ourselves. Drop in a comment below or mail us at, you can also tweet us at @YouthKiAwaaz.


Get your free copy of our eBook ‘Tips and Steps on How To Be The Change and Make a Difference’ now. Click here.

Recieve Youth Ki Awaaz news in your inbox. Subscribe now! Click here.

Supporters: SaveLife Foundation

You must be to comment.
  1. Parul Sabherwal

    hey Avnish
    i m happy that u broght up such an important issue on this platform, it is really very shoking to know about such a myth and lack of proper sex education which is a problem in almost all the developing countries is the root cause behind such issues….

  2. Saakshi Mittal

    This article brings out a shocking trend in a country where perhaps many more are still prevalent and unknown to the rest of the world. This piece is an eye opener and makes a mockery of the so called progressive world that people today love to boast about.
    This is the type of news that must be brought out! Commendable work Avnish!

  3. kriti

    u ve put forwardd d true tragic story of africa….even dere r sm wayss like blood sisters n blood brothers thru which also hiv/aids is transferred…d problem lies wd tribal ppl morr coz dey r d 1’s hu still believe in all dese mythss cz dey r d one hu r uneducated…only n only awareness at a wide scale can cure dis problem…

  4. msmagazine (Ms. Magazine)

    MT @_marysa: They need education; help! African men #raping BABIES to ‘cure’ #AIDS.

  5. edgery (Edrie Irvine)

    RT @msmagazine: MT @_marysa: They need education; help! African men #raping BABIES to ‘cure’ #AIDS.

  6. slinkerwink (slinkerwink)

    RT @msmagazine: MT @_marysa: They need education; help! African men #raping BABIES to ‘cure’ #AIDS.

  7. starshollowgzt (StarsHollowGzt)

    RT @msmagazine: MT @_marysa: They need education; help! African men #raping BABIES to ‘cure’ #AIDS.

  8. JacobMBarela (Jacob Matthew Barela)

    :’-( RT @msmagazine: MT @_marysa: They need education; help! African men #raping BABIES to ‘cure’ #AIDS.

  9. Shrayjaimishra

    Sex Education is the need of the hour….  These type of myths in today’s generation are a big stigma…the nations together should come forward as one,else the day is not far when the entire world will have to fight with the death called HIV…In Africa,proper education of tribal groups and treatment of the patients who are suffering is needed.  And what with U.N.O they should take concrete steps rather than just conduct surveys..What a shame..father raped his daughter!! serious steps by U.N should be taken to control the situation in Africa. Very nice article…with the right issue raised…

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Saira Nikhat

By Olipriya

By shakeel ahmad

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below