African tradition may fuel AIDS


In Kenya, the custom of wife inheritance means that when a man dies, his widow is passed on as part of his estate. And if he died of AIDS, she may not be all that’s passed on.

Recent Must Reads

10/13 – Your genes or your life

10/12 – Orbitrary war

10/11 – Bird droppings in the UK

10/10 – Not so Humane Society

The traditional practice has been condemned by some as a major factor in the escalation of the AIDS epidemic in parts of Kenya, but attempts to ban it face strong resistance. Some of that resistance has come from religious leaders, who say the custom is essential to provide for widows. “It is not only for (sexual) intercourse that wives are inherited … they are inherited so that their economic needs are taken care of,” one clergyman told the PANAFRICAN NEWS AGENCY.

Another cleric argues that arresting wife inheritors, as provincial officials have proposed, could have terrible consequences for women by driving widows into prostitution to provide for themselves.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.