News / Africa

Zimbabwe Woman Fights Conviction of Deliberately Transmitting HIV

HARARE — A 34-year-old Zimbabwean woman - who last month was found guilty of deliberately infecting her husband with the HIV virus - is fighting her conviction.  Her lawyers have approached the country's highest court, demanding repeal of the law she was charged under, saying it stigmatizes HIV/AIDS. 

HIV-positive Samukelisiwe Mlilo is facing 20 years in jail for infecting her husband with the HIV virus.  But she is not yet serving her sentence because of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who is representing her.

In Zimbabwe, it is a crime to deliberately transmit the HIV virus. Lizwe Jamela, a lawyer from the rights group, wants this law struck down because he says it is unclear whether Mlilo or her husband had the virus first.

"It raises a number of constitutional issues," said Jamela.  "So the reason why we had to go to the Supreme Court, there are questions which a magistrate or high court could not answer vis-a-vis the constitution of Zimbabwe, in terms of discrimination and in terms of the law being too broad and too broad to an extent that it violates the freedom of protection by law."

Jamela said in the case of Mlilo there was no proof that she had infected her husband because her husband may have had the virus first.  According to court papers, Mlilo only discovered her HIV positive status when she became pregnant and went for prenatal care.  Zimbabwe's health delivery system encourages all pregnant women to go for HIV testing.

Tinashe Mundawarara is an AIDS activist who believes that the deliberate infecting of partners is not proper.

Commenting on the law under which Mlilo was charged, Mundawarara said, "But this particular reference to HIV, we are saying it stigmatizes people living with HIV.  It brings out HIV as this disease which carries a criminal tag.  We are saying no to that.  But if the state would wish to proceed with criminal sanctions for risk behavior, general criminal laws should be used and not an HIV-specific provision."

According to state papers, Mlilo lived with her husband between 2008 and the 2010 pregnancy.  She disclosed her status to her husband who then reported the matter to the police. 

"At the point we do not know who infected who," said Tinashe Mundawarara.  "This is an example of the violation of women’s rights.  Women are likely to know of their status first.  Mlilo might have been infected by her husband, no one knows, and got charged and convicted."

It now remains to be seen if the Supreme Court will repeal the law which was enacted to curtail the deliberate spreading of HIV in a country with one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world.  United Nations figures show that about 1.2 million Zimbabweans are living with the HIV virus.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid