Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 18:11 PM EDT, 7 March 2012
MASVINGO PROVINCE, Zimbabwe – Shocking news hit the internet six days ago when a 17-year-old HIV positive maid from Mupandawana, Gutu, was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for trying to infect her employer’s four-year-old child with the HIV virus.
People deliberately infecting other people with the virus that causes AIDS is a very real problem both here and abroad. Perpetrators engage in this type of immoral behavior for a number of reasons including denial, anger and revenge.
In the case of Pelagia Mureya, originally from Choto Village in Chief Magonde area in Chinhoyi, she is purported to have sought revenge by putting menstrual blood in porridge which she prepared for her employer’s child. She alleged that this was done in retaliation for the ill-treatment to which she was subjected at the hands of her employers. (For information on how HIV is transmitted visit the CDC website here.)
On 11 September 2011, the ABC News program 20/20 featured a report about Philippe Padieu, who was convicted in 2009 for infecting several women with HIV between the years 2004 to 2007. Padieu, actively pursued his victims, convinced them that he was HIV negative, psychologically manipulated them into engaging in unprotected sex with him, and then discarded them when his interest waned or the money ran out.
Padieu was subsequently convicted in a Texas court of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for infecting the women and sentenced to 45-years in prison.
In featuring the Mureya case, we also presented Padieu’s case to provide balance, because perpetrators of this crime come from all backgrounds. It was especially important to provide this juxtaposition because many of the comments that readers wrote on other sites that reported on Mureya’s case were either outright racist or had racial overtones.
This does not excuse the heinous and disgusting manner with which Mureya tried to infect the infant in her care, and from a moral standpoint, both she and Padieu should be considered monsters.
It is alleged by the court and the parents of the 4-year old child that Mureya laced the porridge she was feeding the child with drops of her infected menstrual blood. Even the most callous individual would be incensed at the thought of such an unclean substance being ingested by an innocent and trusting child who is ill-equipped to protect themselves against harm.
This post does not defend Mureya’s behavior, and in fact, we believe that the 10-year prison term to which she was sentenced was not harsh enough when a two-year reduction in sentence for good behavior is factored into the equation. Mureya’s case would evoke a visceral response in almost anybody, and thus reports of this case have focused on the sensational aspect rather than the fact that a child was used by an adult to exact vengeance on another adult.
The Nahmias Cipher Report’s primary mission is to attempt to bring balance in reporting about people of the Continent and in other Emerging Economies. This is why we chose to present an alternative perspective to this story, one that would make readers realize that the deliberate infection of healthy people with the HIV virus is more prevalent than one would think. To that end, though this case is sensational, it is not an isolated occurrence, nor is this crime a uniquely ‘black,’ ‘African,’ or ‘impoverished people’ problem. If you think you are safe, just ask the women assaulted by Padieu.Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report
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