Threats from blesser recipients will not deter a local activist in her campaign to stop the spread of HIV/Aids, Zululand Observer reports.
Two weeks ago, CEO of King Goodwill Zwelethini’s Bayede Foundation Rhana Naicker revealed shocking statistics of a rise in new HIV infections among young females, with the blame firmly placed on the “blesser” phenomenon.
Older males entice young girls – or groups of girls – with airtime, clothing, shoes, jewellery and cellphones in exchange for sex, with a single blesser reportedly infecting as many as 15 girls a week.
This has seen an alarming escalation of new infections, high teenage pregnancies and botched abortions.
Far from heeding her warning, activist Naicker has become a target of hate mail and threats.
“I was told I was jealous that the young girls are more attractive sexually to the blessers than us older women.
“One of the girls, calling from a private number, went further to say that they – the young girls – enjoy sex, saying it is ‘mnandi’.
“The message was clear: blessers will not be obstructed and will clear the path by any means. This was a threat for me to stop my campaign, but it just makes me more determined,” said Naicker.
Her commitment has also been strengthened by the outpouring of support she received following the “amazingly frightening Zululand Observer article on 29 July.
“Quite a few women have pledged their time and resources in joining the movement to tackle the issue of new infections.
“I also applaud every man who called and emailed to get involved in curbing the blesser syndrome especially as we celebrate and pay homage to women this month.
“A few church leaders have thrown their weight behind me, including Pastor Allen Shobede from the FCFC Church in eSikaleni, who did not fear reprisal from men in his community and expressed his disdain and contempt at the abuse of the word ‘blesser’.
“Generally, the word is used (in the context) of God and those who bless others as His servants and church leaders are now seething with anger at the abuse of the word.
“They have pledged to recapture this word and bring it back to the places of worship.”
Naicker is disturbed by the fact that society at large seems unconcerned about the impact of this group of individuals who buy unsafe sex to the detriment of young girls.
“Infected girls sadly will be psychologically impacted on later in life when the glory of the blesser dissipates, leaving them with a compromised lifestyle.
“Health issues are key to the future generation of young adolescent girls.
“Being a Women’s Month, my plea is for women to rise and take charge as role models and use their voices to make a difference in moral regeneration programmes which will teach young girls to respect themselves and their worth.
‘If we stand as a collective, we can overcome any challenge that society and opportunistic men impose on us.’
– Caxton News Service.