Theological Reflections on Sex as a Cleansing Ritual for African Widows

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Elijah M. Baloyi


Violence against women is deeply rooted in human history. The patriarchal gender inequalities, culture, religion and tradition have been vehicles by means of which these structured stereotypes were entrenched. In trying to keep the widow in the family as well as forcing her to prove her innocence, certain rituals were introduced, one of them being the sex cleansing ritual. Besides being both oppressive and abusive, the sex cleansing ritual can also be an instrument of sex-related sicknesses such as HIV and AIDS. Although some widows are willing to undergo this ritual, others succumb because they fear dispossession or expulsion from home, thereby forfeiting the right to inherit their late husbands’ possessions. It is the aim of this study to unveil by way of research how African widows are subjected to this extremely abusive ritual and exposed to HIV and AIDS. Their vulnerability will be examined from a theological point of view and guidelines will be given. The article will highlight how humiliating and unchristian such a ritual is for defenceless widows and their children.


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How to Cite
Baloyi, E. (2016). Theological Reflections on Sex as a Cleansing Ritual for African Widows. Alternation Journal, 23(2), 201-216. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Elijah M. Baloyi, University of South Africa (UNISA)