- Jul 27, 2000Prostitutes arrested in
Malawi HIV crackdown
By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre
Malawi's President Bakili Muluzi has directed
the country's police to arrest any prostitute
found loitering on street corners in an effort to
slow down the spread of HIV and Aids.
In a broadcast on state radio and televsion
President Muluzi said that since the health
system cannot cope with the AIDS crisis,
Malawians must fight the scourge by
discouraging the kind of behaviour that helps
the spread of the disease.
For the first time,
President Muluzi also
ordered the police to
arrest not only the
prostitutes but their
clients as well.
Latest statistics from
the National Aids
Control Programmes show that at least 14% of
Malawi's population is infected by the HIV virus
and more than 350,000 people have died.
Critics claim the
presidential decree will
only lead to prostitutes
while others wonder
how the police would
be able to distinguish
between a prostitute
and simply a fun-loving
woman out to have a
good time with friends.
But police spokesman
Oliver Soko said the
police will not only concentrate on sweeping
the streets or entertainment joints.
He said the police will conduct surprise swoops
even on the homes of suspected prostitutes to
flush them out.
All those arrested will be charged under the
offence of living on earnings of immorality.
Mr Soko added that since Malawian laws do
not recognise male prostitutes or
homosexuality, male prostitutes would be
charged under laws governing "disorderly or
Prostitutes themselves have received the news
Melissa and Regina, both 24-year-old full-time
prostitutes who share a room in a township in
Blantyre, said the presidential decree was
unfair since most prostitutes do not take up
the profession for fun.
"I will still find a way of soliciting clients even if
it means servicing the police officers for free,"
Emmie Chanika, a civil
rights activist, told the
BBC she welcomes the
since it calls for the
arrest of both the
prostitutes and their
She said the previous
fashion of letting the
clients go scot free
was unfair because "it
is the men who create
Asked what will happen to those prostitutes
who depend on the profession for their living,
Ms Chanika said the decree will force them to
be creative and find alternative means of
The government and several non-governmental
organisations are trying to check the spread of
HIV, but a combination of poverty and
ignorance are frustrating the multi-sectoral
Bubonic Plague Stabilises in Southern Malawi
BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, July 26, 2000) -
Bubonic plague, which was first reported early June in the southernmost Malawi
district of Nsanje, has now stabilised, a local administrator said.
George Chitimbe, environmental officer of Nsanje district, said that at least 78
people have so far been suspected of having been affected by the disease.
"But it is now confinable and there is no cause for alarm," he told PANA.
MacLean Sandiyawo, the Malawi/Mozambique boarder post health officer, said
he alerted the Nsanje district health officials when he got a report that at least 80
people were affected by the disease in the Mozambican town of Dovu, about 30
km from the border.
"It only took two weeks for the disease to spread to the Malawian side of the
border," he said.
Bubonic plague, which causes swellings mostly in the armpits and groins and
induces malaria-like fever, is a contagious disease spread by fleas found on
rodents like rats and mice.
Chitimbe said quarantining the affected people mainly controls the spread of the
disease. A chemical called Coopex is spread in homes to kill the fleas but where
there is no Coopex, communities are encouraged to boil water and pour it in
But community health nurse Melenia Mukongwa complained that quarantining
patients sometimes becomes a headache because most of them loathe the idea
of abandoning their household duties for a week.
"Some people actually run away thereby risking further spread of the disease,"
Mukongwa said patients, who are normally treated with Chloraphenical, are
supposed to be observed at a quarantine area for seven days.
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