Thousands Demand Death Penalty for Six South African Men Accused of Raping Infant, Likely Due to HIV ‘Virgin’ Myth
Thousands of South African protesters gathered yesterday in the Northern Cape town of Upington to demand that the country reinstate the death penalty for six men who allegedly raped a nine-month-old girl, USA Today reports (USA Today, 11/6). The men have been charged with raping the infant, supposedly because they thought the act would cure them of HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/5). The rape of children and infants is "surging" in South Africa, as HIV-positive men believe a myth that sex with a virgin will cure HIV or protect them from developing AIDS (USA Today, 11/6). According to official police statistics released on Wednesday, 31,780 cases of child rape or assault were reported between January 2000 and June 2001. The African National Congress Women's League and the ANC Women's Caucus on Friday asked the country's courts to impose a life sentence on men convicted of raping "children and babies knowing they (the men) were HIV-positive." Northern Cape Health Minister Dipuo Peters said that although health officials are "doing their best" to educate people about HIV/AIDS, "certain myths [are] hard to dispel" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.