Churches condemn condoms in Malawi prisons
July 11, 2003
Leading clergy in Malawi have condemned proposals by some members of parliament, that condoms be freely distributed to inmates around the country's prisons, to check the spread of HIV/AIDS, following rampant homosexual practices in the institutions. That is according to the African Church Information Service.
Members of the National Assembly were sharply split, when
Loveness Gondwe, an opposition MP, blamed the government
for not taking action against widespread sodomy in prisons.
He told the government to stop pretending sex was not taking
place in jails. "Prisoners are citizens like everybody
else and must be protected from the AIDS scourge with free
condoms," charged Gondwe, in response to a report by
the Inspectorate of Prisons, that deplored inhuman conditions
in most of the country's 23 prisons.
But some MPs spoke strongly against the idea, arguing that
it would defeat the concept of rehabilitation, as inmates
were not allowed any social pleasures in the course of serving
Church leaders were particularly irked by the proposal,
saying homosexuality was a sin, and that promoting condoms
in prisons would encourage immorality among inmates.
Pastor Gibson Nachiye of the Deeper Life Church, and Bishop
Andrew Dube of the Assemblies of God, issued a stern criticism
against the move during a press interview here. "Homosexuality
is a sin before God, therefore, such act as distribution
of condoms would only encourage immorality," noted
Bishop Dube, on the other hand, quashed another suggestion
by some members who favoured the idea of occasionally allowing
prisoners to sexually interact with their spouses.
"When one is in prison he is denied the right to freedom
and social life. Bringing wives for prisoners would be killing
the whole idea for confining wrongdoers," affirmed
Generally, churches in Malawi have been opposing free distribution
of condoms to check AIDS. The Catholic Church commands the
largest following, with 8 million members out of Malawi's
10 million population.
It has been in the forefront in discouraging the faithful
from using condoms, even for family planning purposes.
The clergy assert that even though Malawi is one of the
most badly affected country in southern Africa by HIV/AIDS,
condoms are not the solution.
They have, accordingly, embarked on various programmes to
promote abstinence, especially among the youth.
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