Widowhood in the Era of HIV/AIDS: A Case Study of Siaya District, Kenya

Citation:

Ambasa-Shisanya, Constance R. 2007. “Widowhood in the Era of HIV/AIDS: A Case Study of Siaya District, Kenya.” Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS 4 (2): 606-15.

Author: Constance R. Ambasa-Shisanya

Abstract:

Luo women are believed to acquire contagious cultural impurity after the death of their husbands that is perceived as dangerous to other people. To neutralise this impure state, a sexual cleansing rite is observed. In the indigenous setting, the ritual was observed by a brother-in-law or cousin of the deceased husband through a guardianship institution. However, with the emergence of HIV/AIDS, many educated brothers-in-law refrain from the practice and instead hire professional cleansers as substitutes. If the deceased spouses were HIV positive, the ritual places professional cleansers at risk of infection. Thereafter, they could act as a bridge for HIV/AIDS transmission to other widows and to the general population. This paper provides insights into reasons for continuity of widowhood rites in Siaya District. Twelve focus group discussions and 20 in-depth interviews were conducted. The cultural violence against Luo widows could spread HIV/AIDS, but Christianity and condoms act as coping mechanisms.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Health, HIV/AIDS, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2007

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.