Zimbabwe Leader Thinks Bald, Unbathed Women Will Stop HIV Spread

May 14, 2012  |  

Here’s some insight into why Zimbabwe has such a high rate of HIV infection: ignorant, sexist leadership.

Senator Morgan Femai is heavily under attack for ideas he shared during a parliamentary HIV awareness workshop in Kadoma Friday. The Zimbabwean leader suggested, after what I hope wasn’t too much thought, a radical solution to halt the spread of HIV in his country.

“What I propose it that the government should come up with a law that compels women to have their heads clean-shaven like what the Apostolic sects do,” ZimEye reports. “They should also not bath[e] because that is what has caused all these problems.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Senator Femai proposed another equally ignorant, though far more dangerous, solution to the problem: female circumcision.

“Women have got more moisture in their organs as compared to men so there is need to research on how to deal with that moisture because it is conducive for bacteria breeding,” he told his audience. “There should be a way to suck out that moisture.”

Sadly, the senator isn’t the only political figure in the country to spout sexist solutions to the sexual health issues plaguing the country. According to All Africa, another Senator, Sithembile Mlotshwa (Matobo), recently suggested men be injected with drugs that reduce their libido, and she called for prisoners to be given sex toys to quell their sexual needs.

Though Zimbabwe’s rate of HIV infection has dropped 50 percent since peaking in the late 1990s, 2009 figures from UNICEF show more than 14 percent of the country’s adult population has HIV or AIDs. The propositions from these leaders illustrate that the lay population isn’t the only one that needs to be educated about the spread of the disease. The country’s leaders could also use a few lessons on reproductive health and good old self-control.

Are you surprised at all by what these leaders suggested?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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