Spreading AIDS Could Bring 20-Year Prison Term

Women´s Associations in Zimbabwe Applaud Measure

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HARARE, Zimbabwe, AUG. 26, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Anyone in Zimbabwe who deliberately transmits AIDS will face a 20-year prison term, under a new law.

The law on sexual criminality, signed recently by President Robert Mugabe, also applies to rape within matrimony and reinforces the protection of the mentally handicapped against sexual abuse.

In regard to the deliberate transmission of AIDS, the law stipulates that “any person who knows he/she is infected and acts intentionally or allows someone to act intentionally, knowing that he/she will infect other people, will be considered guilty.”

One out of every four adults in Zimbabwe carries the AIDS virus, studies show.

The new law also states that any sexual relation not desired by a husband or wife can be regarded as a rape.

Associations for the defense of women´s rights have applauded the new law, which activist Val Ingam-Thorpe said allows women to “have control over their bodies as men cannot rape them.”

Opponents of the new law say that it might cause discord within marriages, since the dowry paid by the husband at the time of marriage is perceived as a right, allowing him to have conjugal relations without obstacles.

Those who approve the law, on the contrary, say that it “will improve the quality of marriages, as men will have to court their wives.”

The law also levies up to a 10-year prison term for extramarital relations with minors aged 16 and younger. This was prompted by the fact that witch doctors recommend that AIDS patients rape a young virgin to be “cured.”

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