End Dangerous Sexual Rituals for Widows in Malawi

Target: Joyce Banda, President of the Republic of Malawi

Goal: Criminalize “widow cleansing”, in which new widows are encouraged to have unprotected sex with strangers, in Malawi.

Gender advocates are concerned about women’s welfare in the Republic of Malawi, a country in Africa. According to CNN, half of all women in Malawi are married before the age of 18. Additionally, older women are subjected to superstitious sexual rituals when they become widows. Many in Malawi believe that, in order to prevent being cursed by the departed soul of a deceased husband, a widow must have unprotected sex with a “cleanser.” This tradition is so ingrained in the culture of Malawi that widows feel obligated to have these services performed, despite the risk of transmitting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.

Cleansers in Malawi are paid exorbitant amounts of money to have intercourse with widows. Although the average daily wage for a worker there is only $1, cleansers typically make fifty times that amount for their services. This means that widows often become destitute as a result. Cleansing has also been linked to increased transmission of HIV and AIDS. One former cleanser admitted that he had been HIV positive while he was being paid to have sexual relations with dozens of women.

The practice of cleansing widows is dangerous and degrading. Many advocate groups have helped to decrease cleansing through education and counseling, which provide widows with alternative venues for their grief. Cleansers are profiting from women who are in a vulnerable state and are spreading sexually transmitted diseases in the process. Please ask President Joyce Banda to ban the practice of cleansing and protect widows from sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.


Dear President Joyce Banda,

As you know, the practice of widow cleansing in Malawi is degrading and dangerous. Widows are expected to have sexual relations after the death of their husbands to prevent being cursed. While this practice is a cultural tradition and widows voluntarily pay cleansers for their services, unprotected sex with a cleanser can have dangerous consequences. A former cleanser has come forward and admitted that he was HIV positive while he was performing these services. Cleansing needs to stop in order to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Aside from health concerns, the practice of cleansing can also have detrimental psychological consequences as well. Widows feel obligated to have intercourse with a stranger shortly after the death of their husbands, which can lead to guilt and shame. International organizations have been working on increasing education and providing counseling for widows to help provide alternative options to cleansing. Cleansers make exorbitant amounts of money for their services, which can also leave widows in financial distress after the death of their husband.

For all of these reasons, it is imperative that the practice of cleansing in Malawi be stopped. Cleansers are profiting from women who are in a vulnerable state and are spreading sexually transmitted diseases in the process. Please ban the practice of widow cleansing in Malawi.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: 3594355917_905209dc69 via boxingscene.com

Sign the Petition

  • Only your name will be displayed. By signing, you accept our terms and may receive updates on this and related causes.
FacebookCare2 NewsTwitterEmailShare


  1. Not only is that crazy, it’s dangerous and sickening.

  2. Unnikrishnan Sasidharan says:

    Speechless (‡▼益▼)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Facebook Comments


421 Signatures

  • Darlene Roepke
  • Lynn Juozilaitis
  • Ann Blank
  • tam O
  • Mary-Carol Gales
  • Eveline Mutsaerts
  • Carole Mathews
  • Debbie Biere
  • Amy McKeon
1 of 42123...42
Skip to toolbar