"Just Say ‘NO!’ to widow inheritance: The intersection of traditional practice and public health interventions in Bondo district, Kenya"
This paper explores the intersections of traditional practice and beliefs among
the Luo community of western Kenya with trends in condom usage and perception
of public health interventions centered on HIV prevention. It presents results
from an exploratory analysis into whether massive health promotion campaigns
in Bondo, Kenya have been effective in changing behavior and impacting the
perceptions of widows aged 18-49 in this region. With the rapid spread of HIV
infection, clinicians, laypersons and the media have begun to attribute the
elevated HIV rates in Nyanza Province to the practice of widow inheritance,
calling for its eradication and maligning the Luo for their failure to cease
practice of this dangerous custom. Thus, funding has been injected into projects
in the region that aim to “empower” local women to forego inheritance, use condoms and raise incomes. The limited success of such strategies is examined in the context of three main research questions: First, what is the perception among local women of widow inheritance and its relationship to HIV? What are the implications of these perceptions on sexual behavior, social interactions, condom use and response to public health interventions? Finally, what factors act to motivate women in their decision-making about inheritance, condom use and sexual behavior?