The magnitude of widow ritual cleansings among Kara tribe in Ukerewe Ditrict, Mwanza Region
Widow ritual cleansing has been documented in many countries in Africa. The ritual refers to the traditional practice of sexual intercourse with the widow of a deceased male, to prepare her for acceptance to the community and or remarriage. Several reasons have been found to account for the existence of this kind of ritual, mainly, low income, socio-culture and taboos.
Objective of the study was to determine the magnitude and reasons for widow cleansing practice among the Kara Tribe in Nyangombe Village, Ukara Division, Ukerewe District , Tanzania. A cross-sectional descriptive study in June 2013 was conducted in which ,91 widows at Nyangombe Village, who belong to the Kara tribe were included. Data were collected using semi-structured questionnaire and in depth interviews. It was found that Widow cleansing among Kara Tribe of Nyangome Village, Ukerewe Distric is a ritual involving sexual intercourse with a male cleanser, unknown to the woman, a traditional custom. Of the 91 Kara widows found in this village, majority (94%) had already underwent this ritual, while 6% were not aware and 5% were aware but had not practiced. Again majority (66%) of them had information on cleansing ritual through their aunts/ uncles , 17% from their mother and 4% from their neighbors. Although 66% of the widows were aware about STIs/HIV/AIDs, the ritual cleanser was not aware and did not use a condom during cleansing, though he was aware about gonorrhea as a sexually transmitted disease (STI).It was recommended that Major efforts should be done to ensure residents of Ukara Division are given health education on HIV transmission. Welfare institutions in Ukerewe should take note of these practices and strive to raise the levels of education and social economic status among the Kara people.
KEYWORDS: Ritual cleansing, Widow, Kara Tribe, sexually transmitted disease, HIV