‘Decriminalise wilful transmission of HIV’

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BY VENERANDA LANGA

FEMALE parliamentarians have called for the decriminalisation of wilful transmission of HIV, saying women were the most affected by the law.

The issue came out on Thursday last week in the National Assembly during debate on the Second Reading Stage of the Marriages Bill, which among several other issues seeks to now decriminalise wilful transmission of HIV.

Harare West MP Joana Mamombe (MDC Alliance) said due to their biological make-up of giving birth, women used to be the most affected by criminalisation of wilful transmission of HIV.

She said usually, couples learn about their HIV status when a pregnant woman is tested to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

“We welcome that this Bill proposes to decriminalise wilful transmission of HIV because it affects women the most, especially the young women,” Mamombe said.

“Decriminalising wilful transmission of HIV will reduce the number of women jailed at Chikurubi Female Prison for crimes such as that they wilfully transmitted the disease to their partners due to their biological make-up of giving birth given that the virus is discovered mostly when the pregnant women are tested,” she said.

Josephine Shava (Zanu PF MP – proportional representation) added: “If a woman is HIV positive and informs her husband, the husband rushes to the police and makes sure that the wife is arrested. I think this law must protect women. When the case is presented in court, the women cannot defend themselves as they have no legal representation.”

Proportional representation legislator Perseviarance Zhou (Zanu PF) opened up on how criminalisation of HIV affected her brother, Kaiboni Mlambo, who ended up dying in prison.

“Yes, he was HIV positive, but he agreed with his girlfriend that they would use protection. The woman was found to be HIV positive, but this Act was used against my brother and he got arrested. Instead of dying of HIV and Aids, he died from stress in prison,” she said.

MPs said criminalising of transmission of HIV would contribute to its spread as partners would be scared to disclose their statuses to each other in fear of getting arrested.

“It was also realised that Zimbabwe criminalises sexual activity when one is HIV positive, yet our Constitution says that we should not discriminate against people with HIV and Aids,” Zhou said.

3 COMMENTS

  1. First and foremost willfully transmitting the virus to another person is and should be regarded as premeditated murder which should thus attract a custodial sentence. Lifting this punishment should never be an option as it will encourage reckless transmission of the virus by the infected. It also removes a deterrent measure that i believe was contributing to a reduction of new infections.
    That women are mostly affected by the status core is not reason enough to remove custodial sentencing. Instead the law should make it either be mandatory for couples wishing to get married to undergo pre-marital testing or allow them to choose to marry without the test in which case none of the partners should be allowed to accuse the other should there be infection.

    At the end of the day any change of the law should be premised on the need to eliminate/eradicate the virus fully if it were possible. It should also aim to protect the vulnerable young and that way we can then talk about combating this disease.

  2. This is reckless if you ask me. the parliamentarials are heading into the woods. Those who are infected will start doling it out willy nilly, at least there was a deterrent measure – the legislation.

  3. Please leave this good law as it is, wishful transmission of the AIDs virus is as good as biological war fare. Some can kill some one knowing and without any one seeing that. Couples must be in the habit of disclosing their status periodically, the hospital must also involve men when doing HIV tests. The courts must also be very clear on how to determine such cases.

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