Talk:Virgin cleansing myth

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Uggh.--FUNKAMATIC ~talk 02:52, 12 August 2011 (UTC)


Is the belief that only if the man rapes the woman he gets cured? Wouldn't consensual sex with a virgin just have the same effect? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:13, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

The belief is that having sexual intercourse with a virgin cures the infected person's disease. So technically, I should think it is correct that consensual sex with a virgin would be believed to have the same effect. The reality as expressed in the prevailing literature however, is that virgins are raped, given an inherent suspicion that the younger the girl's age the more likely she is to be a virgin (and of course, a young girl is less likely and less capable of giving consent). Cases have been reported in which one-day-old baby girls have been raped in attempts to cure HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe. I think this is why the article's lead has been worded to use rape rather than has sex with. However, several sources I have simply state it as sexual intercourse and regard rape as being a phenomenon that derives from that belief. I'll change the lead accordingly, though I intend to expand on it anyway.
On a second note, there is a journal article I've cited from The Lancet medical journal titled Rape of individuals with disability: AIDS and the folk belief of virgin cleansing (which I intend to include more content from soon) which presents evidence on infected men raping females with disabilities due to a suspicion that disabled females rarely if at all engage in sexual activity and are often presumed to be virgins. John Shandy`talk 04:08, 1 January 2012 (UTC)


Some words that explains why this IS a myth and not a fact could be good. After all, a lot of people do not belive it's a myth! I suppose there is no empirical experience that someone has been cured, so a statement of that and a reference would be good. Fabbe (talk) 21:40, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

That's a good suggestion. I'm not sure anyone has really bothered debunking it and most doctors and scientists stopped bothering with fringe claims about HIV/AIDS approximately 20 years ago in the late 80s, early 90s. I guess if push comes to shove we could include a brief section on how HIV/AIDS is contracted and spread. I've got some other articles in my pipeline that I'm working on and it's been a while since I touched up this one, but when I find time I'll look into this. John Shandy`talk 17:21, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I also think that it's important for pages about myths to state something about how they have been debunked. Otherwise, they are unproven theories, not myths. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:03, 14 August 2016 (UTC)

Blood Libel And Racism[edit]

There is no evidence that 'the virgin cure myth' is real, that it is a widely held belief in Africa or South Africa, and that it contributes in any way that is statistically significant to child rape or any other rape. However, there is a racist consensus that 'Africans will believe anything', especially in a country like South Africa, which had half a century of Apartheid indoctrination into white racial superiority. So what does dr. Rachel Jewkes, of the Medical Research Council in South Africa have to say about the statistical evidence for this myth of a myth?

In 2002 she wrote in The Lancet:


" The 1% seroconversion rate in the child rape series in Cape Town3, to which Pitcher and Bowley refer, mostly in the absence of antiretroviral therapy, would also suggest that this is not an important cause of rape. If it had been, given the extensive injuries common in child rape, a higher rate of seroconversion would be expected. "

In 2009 she wrote in The Lancet:


The myth of the virgin rape myth

Original Text Helen Epstein aEmail Address, Rachel Jewkes b

We wish to question the assertion of Laura Murray and Gilbert Burnham (June 6, p 1924)1 that “The widely held African belief that an infected male can be ‘cleansed’ of HIV through sexual intercourse with a virgin puts younger girls at particular risk in communities with a high prevalence of HIV.”

Murray and Burnham provide no reference for this statement, probably because there is no evidence to support it. We do not claim knowledge of the entire African continent, but our research in South Africa and Namibia shows that, although the idea of a virgin sex cure is familiar in some African communities, evidence from service providers working with cases of child sexual abuse and from ethnographic and epidemiological studies of child rapists and their victims suggests that it is very rarely a motivating factor in these cases.2—4

Claims that virgin rape myths drive child sex abuse have surfaced from time to time in the context of social inequality and racial tension, even in Western countries.4, 5 In the current South African case, this claim is predicated on racist assumptions about the amorality of African men and is highly stigmatising towards people with HIV. It is also a diversion from the real causes of child rape which, in southern Africa at least, have much to do with the challenges posed by deepening poverty and inequality to existing gender-based and age-based social hierarchies.3

We declare that we have no conflicts of interest.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:02, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

MrSativa, if the above IP is you (and I'm certain that it is, judging by the argument being made and your sudden appearance at this article), you already know that Jmh649 (Doc James), Paul Barlow and I addressed the flaws in your argument on this matter; do revisit what was stated on it: Talk:Rape/Archive 20#HIV Virgin myth. In other words, stop adding faulty, WP:Undue weight material on this topic to articles. One should look into your edit history and see how many other articles you've added this material to, or just what inaccurate information you've added to other articles. Surely, this rape material is not the only type of faulty editing you've engaged in. And just like at the Rape article, I've fixed your WP:Undue weight material (fixed my typo as well). Flyer22 (talk) 12:43, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps you should complain about the following inclusion: "As many as 3,600 girls in Zimbabwe each year may be contracting HIV and AIDS after being raped." What is the source for this rather incendiary claim? What survey is being referred to? Because the only link that is given is a CNN article and interview of Betty Makoni, who is accused of embezzling NGO funds. What is her source? And if no actual sources are given, why is this statement included in the Wikipedia article? MrSativa (talk) 02:48, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia goes by WP:Verifiability, with WP:Due weight. For example, the vast majority of sources with regard to the virgin cleansing myth make clear that the myth we give most of our weight to that aspect vs. claims going against it. Wikipedia is not interested in questioning the source the way you are doing. Flyer22 (talk) 03:04, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
From the Undue Weight page, note (3), that "The relative prominence of each viewpoint among Wikipedia editors or the general public is not relevant and should not be considered." Therefore, just because everyone believes in the Flat Earth Theory, doesn't mean that the Round Earth Theory should be dismissed, if it is the theory that has the actual evidence. The problem is, Flyer22, that media statements are notoriously unreliable. For instance in South Africa, there was a widely held belief that there were '3 million Zimbabweans in South Africa' - and you could see this claim widely repeated among different media. The problem is that no one ever provided statistical evidence of it. It turned out in the 2011 population census, that there are a total of 1.6 million foreign nationals in South Africa. There cannot be 3 million (or 2 million, or 1.6 million) Zimbabweans in South Africa. (See Table 3.6 of the 2011 Population Census, by Statistics South Africa [3]) And yet the claim was widely repeated, because it served propaganda purposes. Just because a claim is widely repeated, doesn't mean it should be reported as gospel truth on Wikipedia. And that doesn't mean that the one claim that says it aint so, but is based on actual research, should be dismissed because it would give 'undue weight'. MrSativa (talk) 12:48, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
MrSativa, was I not clear below, in my "23:50, 4 May 2014 (UTC)" post? I'm done discussing this matter with you because you can never see, or rather don't care, what you are doing wrong when you add material on this topic. Nor do you understand the WP:Undue weight policy or other Wikipedia policies (or guidelines, for that matter) well. I will revert you when I see inappropriate editing on your part, and so will others. And I will report you to the appropriate Wikipedia venue if need be. If you want to start a WP:RfC on this matter, then feel free to do so, but do stop addressing me on this matter. And do try to stop moving posts around so that the chronological flow is all distorted, and waiting weeks before responding. Flyer22 (talk) 13:01, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
I don't understand your concept of 'undue weight'. The fact is that dr. Rachel Jewkes is a member of the Medical Research Council and a researcher herself. Betty Makoni is an NGO hustler. Yet that is the preferred link? Again, what is the source for the "As many as 3,600 girls in Zimbabwe each year may be contracting HIV and AIDS after being raped."? Other than that 'Betty Makoni says so', to paraphrase your argument.MrSativa (talk) 20:11, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
It's not my concept; it's Wikipedia's. And I've already told you what we go by on this matter. Flyer22 (talk) 20:18, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Shouldn't the lack of sources be reflected in the text? For instance, instead of saying "As many as 3,600 girls in Zimbabwe each year may be contracting HIV and AIDS after being raped.", it could say "As many as 3,600 girls in Zimbabwe each year are alleged to be contracting HIV and AIDS after being raped, according to some sources, although there is disagreement among experts."MrSativa (talk) 21:11, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Neutral point of view " Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources.[3] Giving due weight and avoiding giving undue weight means that articles should not give minority views or aspects as much of, or as detailed, a description as more widely held views or widely supported aspects. Generally, the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all, except perhaps in a "see also" to an article about those specific views. For example, the article on the Earth does not directly mention modern support for the Flat Earth concept, the view of a distinct minority; to do so would give undue weight to it."

Ok, so include dr. Rachel Jewkes findings in a 'see also' segment. However, it seems to me that it is you who are giving undue weight to unsubstantiated claims (unsubstantiated by research) about infection rates resulting from the alleged myth. As dr. Rachel Jewkes opinions are based on research, and Betty Makoni's views are based on who knows what, I would say the latter's views are more akin to the Flat Earth concept, whether it is an unsubstatiated majority or minority view or not. However, aren't you concerned that you have not been able to come up with any scientific research that shows that the so-called Virgin Cleansing Myth is more real in it's impact on rape statistics, than tales of the Incredible Snowman and Bigfoot?MrSativa (talk) 17:00, 4 May 2014 (UTC)

It's already been explained to you how you violate WP:Due weight. And I've already told you that Wikipedia goes by WP:Verifiability, with WP:Due weight. And I've told you that Wikipedia is not interested in questioning the source the way you are doing; we simply go by what the source states. For me or anyone else to have given undue weight to "infection rates resulting from the alleged myth," there would need to be WP:Reliable sources showing that the vast majority of WP:Reliable sources report opposite that material. Or the infection rates aspects would have undue weight in this article in some other way. There are not. I did not; no one else did. And it does not have undue space in this article at all. And as for making the Rachel Jewkes material a See also link; that is not beneficial because the Rachel Jewkes article is not about claims against the Virgin cleansing myth article; nor should it be. Her material is better addressed in this article, with due weight (meaning just a bit about her claim). As for whether or not I am concerned that I "have not been able to come up with any scientific research that shows that the so-called Virgin Cleansing Myth is more real in it's impact on rape statistics, than tales of the Incredible Snowman and Bigfoot?," no, I am not. And this is because not only are there an abundance of high-quality sources out there stating that the virgin cleansing myth contributes to child sexual abuse and impacts HIV/AIDS infection rates (of course it contributes to HIV/AIDS infection rates if HIV/AIDS-infected men are having sex with female virgins or sexually abusing female virgin children because they think it will cure HIV/AIDS), but I have not been interested in "[coming up] with any scientific research that shows that the so-called Virgin Cleansing Myth is more real in it's impact on rape statistics, than tales of the Incredible Snowman and Bigfoot?." And I have barely edited the Virgin cleansing myth article."
Since Doc James and Paul Barlow have not further engaged you in this topic, though I called on them via WP:Echo above, perhaps NeilN, who also edits and watches sex articles, and understands Wikipedia policies and guidelines, might be interested in addressing your concerns or might have some ideas about the article. I don't know what else to state to you on the matter. Flyer22 (talk) 23:50, 4 May 2014 (UTC)
How we can say that these theories never existed? Not saying that you are 100% wrong, but if you have reliable sources and your information has been confirmed. I think we can attribute. But no way this article is going to be deleted. OccultZone (Talk) 04:29, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
OccultZone, are you speaking to MrSativa? Flyer22 (talk) 04:32, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Yeah I was talking to MrSativa. OccultZone (Talk) 05:13, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
You are making a strawman argument. I am not saying which theory has never existsed, I am saying that there is no proof that they have an impact on actual rape, let alone childrape, in South Africa, Namibia, or elsewhere, when it comes to HIV infection. So where does the "As many as 3,600 girls in Zimbabwe each year may be contracting HIV and AIDS after being raped." claim come from? I am suggesting you have no research anywhere to back it up, because it likely doesn't exist. And you do know that your source, Betty Makoni, has been charged with embezzlement of funds from her Girl Child Network?[4][5]MrSativa (talk) 17:05, 4 May 2014 (UTC)


Quality Of Sources[edit]

" AIDS educations being imparted is not helping to a great extent as of now. Rising AIDS rates have simply led to an increase of child rapes.[1] "

The source given here is from 13 years ago, when UNAIDS made wild claims about the extent of HIV infection and the future impact on the population of South Africa. For instance, 25% of South Africans were supposed to be HIV positive, and as a result the population of South Africa was to stagnate in 2004 at 43.9 million people. They are now well over 54 million. May I add that this 2002 source is not sourced, and is not based on any unbiased surveys. The semi-satirical publication Noseweek said it best - the entire panic was based on the changing statistics after the fall of apartheid and the integration of the 'independent homelands' and migration to the cities, after the fall of apartheid.


Noseweek August 2000

Two days later, Stats SA gave the department a confidential critique of the comparative death statistics published in the Sunday Times and of Makgoba's claims that are quoted there.

Firstly, Stats SA pointed out what had to have been obvious to Home Affairs from the start: the figures for deaths in 1990 were for the "old" (largely white) South Africa, which excluded the entire populations of the then "Bantu homelands".

Informed sources within the department say that the process for including deaths in the former homelands only started in 1996 -- and that 1998 was the first year when the process was sufficiently advanced to produce reliable national statistics.

The 1990 graph, therefore, represents the typical pattern for a largely white, middle-class, urban -- and older -- population: a gradual increase in the number of deaths through the age groups, with the largest numbers dying in old age.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by MrSativa (talkcontribs)

MrSativa, none of what you stated above stops the fact that you keep adding WP:Synthesis to the article and keep WP:Edit warring over that. That is why I will continue to revert you, as I did here and here. I am thoroughly tired of dealing with your inappropriate editing, as per above. And is not a WP:Reliable source, by the way. OccultZone, can I count on you as backup in reverting MrSativa's WP:Synthesis? If NeilN were not currently busy, I believe that he would help as well. Flyer22 (talk) 00:36, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
No mention of "Virgin cleansing myth" in above paragraphs. Virusmyth maybe good for EL. OccultZone (TalkContributionsLog) 03:01, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
Now there are 700 GNC clubs throughout Zimbabwe, and their methodology has been replicated in Swaziland, Malawi and South Africa. It's become an important public forum and an invaluable resource - Makoni estimates that the GCN's three "empowerment villages," which provide asylum, medical care and counseling, have helped to rescue some 35,000 girls from abusive sitautions, both "virgin myth"-related and otherwise. Some ten girls per day report rapes; given the pervasive culture of silence, one can only imagine how many go unreported. But while Makoni's relief work is crucial, we wonder how the "virgin myth" - and a culture that allows for its perpetuation - can be discredited: surely hundreds of experiments - i.e., rapes of young girls which have not resulted in the curing of AIDS! - should begin to rob it of its potency?
Again, where is the survey that proves any of this. Is it the '10 women a day' that was turned into '3600 women per year'? This is all guesswork based on anecdotal evidence (if that), extrapolated to the rest of the country. Is this why you cannot find the survey that confirms these data?MrSativa (talk) 20:13, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
I've alerted WP:Med to this discussion; see here. Flyer22 (talk) 21:30, 14 March 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Stein, Sadie (2009). "Silver Linings: One Woman Takes On The 'Virgin Myth.' Many Others Perpetuate It". Jezebel. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
Thanks for the note, Flyer. This article needs a thorough overhauling. Quite a lot of it flatly fails WP:V. See, e.g., "Education has helped women such as Betty Makoni speak out against the myth and attempt to dissuade people from believing the virgin cleansing myth, noting that most of the girls targeted are too young to walk, much less guard themselves", when the cited article says "some", not "most" and it doesn't attribute that statement to Makoni at all. Misquoting an activist to say something so common-sensically wrong is a BLP violation, too. The source doesn't directly say that the one-day-old rape was due to the myth, and the activist deals with non-myth cases, too. I'm going to go pull a bunch of the things that I've noticed are unsupported by the sources, but I've checked less than half (and found problems with nearly every one of them), so someone else should do a more thorough job. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:02, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for helping out. I agree with the overhaul, and pulling of sources, per what you stated. I also commented lower, as you've likely seen. Flyer22 (talk) 01:19, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Just looking at the first change, this is a good revert by Flyer22 as "alleged belief" makes no sense. Catholics don't allegedly believe Jesus existed - they believe Jesus existed. --NeilN talk to me 17:24, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for commenting, NeilN. Flyer22 (talk) 17:46, 22 March 2015 (UTC)


I'm unhappy about basing this article on such flimsy evidence as newspaper articles, when the only peer-reviewed journal articles, like PMID 21353703 and PMID 15158626, say that there's little evidence that the myth results in a significant number of rapes (and also that the same myth appears all over the world, not just in Africa). But I want to ask a different question: Why is there so little about the European history of this idea? It's not just "one psychologist" who says this. 19th century British brothels specialized in it (PMID 18183672, [1]). I'm going to see if I can provide more information (and also fix the organization).

Also, why aren't we including any of the similar ideas, like sex with boys or very fat women[2] (an African myth) or committing incest[3] (a European myth)? About about widow cleansing, which is a somewhat related practice that causes HIV to spread[4]? Multiple reliable sources are directly comparing these ideas, we should probably mention them (very briefly). WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:40, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Note: WhatamIdoing is one of the members of WP:Med, the WikiProject that I noted in the #Quality Of Sources section above.
WhatamIdoing, if you want to improve this article's sourcing, which it's clear that you do, I certainly will not get in your way. I think that I put this article on my WP:Watchlist after MrSativa's inappropriate editing at the Rape article (#Blood Libel And Racism). I would rather the article be based on WP:Secondary scholarly sources, like this and this book source used in the Misconceptions section of the HIV/AIDS article. WP:Secondary sources are generally inclusive on the exact prevalence of the virgin cleansing myth, but especially note its connection to Africa, where there is significantly less sex education than in many other parts of the world. As for other HIV/AIDS myths, if they are WP:Notable enough for their own Wikipedia articles, those articles can obviously be created. But it is likely best to regulate them to the Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS denialism and/or Discredited HIV/AIDS origins theories articles. Flyer22 (talk) 01:09, 15 March 2015 (UTC)


It nauseates me if it's called "having sex" if a child is raped. This is a sort of rape itself.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:14, February 26, 2017‎

In Popular Culture[edit]

Should there be a section added to the article talking about the reference to this myth in the musical Book of Mormon? The two pages could link to each other. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:40, 16 June 2017 (UTC)