Life Lessons
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Traditional Healer Practitioners Association of
Zambia (THAZ)
took place in September 2003. The president of THAZ Dr. R.S. Vongo addressed a major
issue regarding innapropiate healings of AIDS.He emphatically estated that
“Sex with a Virgin does
not cure AIDS!”
He went on to say that this misconception and practice from down south, has invaded Zambia and is
being prescribed not by Zambian traditional healers but rather by outsiders.  This practice has no basis in
truth. Even those with just basic knowledge of medical procedures and the HIV Virus, are aware that this
practice would only add to the spread of the virus and not its cure.
According to some conversations, it is still occurring . We still hear that men believe this sexual act
cures AIDS. We hear it in our court rooms, when men are brought to trial for acts of raping babies,
children, youths or with those women who they still consider to be virgins. It is presented as a legitimate
reason of why they were forced into raping a virgin. These rapists  are ill and need to find a cure or their
own families will suffer from their death.
The slogan "Sex with a Virgin does not cure AIDS" is now seen on billboards, on the sides of our Mini-
buses, on the bumper stickers of our vehicles, and the buttons worn on our friends at meetings. Our
Country’s law makers and enforcers are being backed by the Churches, media and public consensus. All
agree that this evil practice must be stopped now and its perpetrators brought to justice. Not just those
who perform the deed but also those who prescribe it as a cure!
However, the answer is not so clear. This type of child abuse rips apart families and communities alike.
Mulenga is a thirty year old mother of a daughter a year and a half old. Her husband was killed
six months ago in an automobile accident.
Today, she sat crying with her head in her hands. We were in the upstairs office, where I was counseling
at a child in crisis center. She just entered the room, sat down and the tears came. It took a long time
before she was able to speak. When she was calm, I introduced myself and asked her if she would feel
free to share with me what caused her pain or if she would prefer one of the female counselors. She
chose to tell me her story.
 Mulenga was employed at a shopping center. Her walk to work begins at 5 am.  Usually she leaves her
daughter with relatives while she is at work. However, at this particular time, her relatives needed to return
to a village to care for a sick aunt,  and Mulenga asked her neighbor if she was free to watch her child
  She would explain to her boss and get off early. Her neighbor who was an elderly woman agreed to help
out for the one day. So Mulenga left her baby daughter with their neighbor, who was close to the family
since the death of the baby's father. The three of them would sit at night and listen to the “Day’s News” on
the neighbor’s radio. All the time the baby would be passed back and forth between them.
In the evening when Mulenga returned home, she was surprised that her daughter was being cared for by
the neighbor’s nephew. She asked the young man where the elderly woman was. He said that his father
had a stroke so his aunt had rushed to the hospital and asked him to watch over the baby until Mulenga
returned from work. She thanked him, picked up her sleeping daughter and went into her one room that
she called home. Mulenga put the sleeping baby on the bed and noticed that her daughter’s legs were
slightly fidgeting. The child made soft whimpering sounds as Mulenga removed her dress to change her
daughter. It was then, that Mulenga noticed the bruises between her daughter’s legs and some small
drops of blood on the baby’s clothes.
Mulenga wrapped her daughter up in a blanket and rushed to the house of her neighbor searching for the
nephew. He was gone!
Very late that night, when the neighbor returned she was surprised to find Mulenga holding her baby and
rocking back and forth on the stoop of the house. Mulenga informed her what happened and showed the
elderly woman her child’s clothes and bruises. The neighbor was shocked and unable to speak. The
nephew never returned. Some say that he left the city, others the country.
Mulenga finished her story and just sat there staring at me. I asked about the daughter and was told she
stays full time with the aunt. Mulenga is so filled with shame over not being a good mother and protecting
her baby that she now wants to quit her job at the shopping center. The neighbor’s nephew was never
charged since there was no way to prove he did anything. He has yet to return.  Mulenga heard rumors
that he was HIV Positive  and spent large sums of family money frequenting traditional healers for a cure
to his illness.
Mulenga’s daughter was found to be without any infections. Both continued to return to the Center for a
year. Later on, they moved out of town to stay with relatives on the family’s farm.
Tabitha is a thirteen year old school girl who lives with her father and sisters. One day when her
sisters where at the shops and her father was working,  the father’s workmate came into the house drunk
and raped her. The man ran away leaving Tabitha infected with HIV Positive.
Tabitha is struggling with finding out what she did wrong for this to have happened to her.
Sexual Abuse of any kind is wrong. Sexual Abuse of a child is a hideous crime.
Sexual Abuse perpetrated on an innocent to be free from AIDS is a deeply evil act,
for the purposeful diminishing or destroying of another Human Being’s life in the
attempt of enhancing and prolonging your own is the true, primary basis of