Mbeki Calls on South Africans to Stop Infant Rapes Likely Due to HIV ‘Virgin’ Myth
South African President Thabo Mbeki on Friday called on the country to stop a "wave of rapes" of infants and children, which anti-rape organizations say are committed by men who believe that "sex with a virgin will cure them" of HIV infection, Reuters reports. During his New Year's message, Mbeki said, "We must make sure that indeed we break the silence with regard to [rape], that we report the wrongdoers to the police and make sure that the system of justice punishes these people appropriately" (Reuters, 12/28). According to official police statistics released in November, 31,780 cases of child rape or assault were reported between January 2000 and June 2001 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/5). Mbeki, who has drawn international criticism for his questioning of a link between HIV and AIDS, "made only a passing reference" to the virus, asking South Africans to "help fight theft and corruption within the public health system," Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.