In Nyanza, several men have entered the business of ‘sleeping’ with dead men’s wives as a way of earning a living, the men are paid by the widows who host them in their houses for up to seven days having ‘sex’ with them at night.
Alice Atieno, a woman in her 30’s from Uyoma Kagwa village in Siaya county has woken up at 6:00 preparing a meal for a man who is supposed to sleep’ with her later in the night as a way of cleansing her days after her husband has died and has been buried.
This is like an order of the community when a man dies and leaves behind a woman who is below 60 years. The two are two engage in the act without protection since their fluids are supposed to mix to be considered a complete passage.
According to Alice, it is the only option since she has to protect her children from misfortunes and death at worst and engaging in the act with a stranger will cleanse her from her dead husband’s spirit. Since Alice wants to build another house after her husband’s death, she has to ‘sleep’ with a cleanser before shifting and that means, she must prepare food as she awaits a night full of action in bed.
James Odawa Owino, a man who ‘sleeps’ with widows in the county says that he turned it into a business and has been earning a living with it, he charges the women between 1,500 and 15,000 according to the financial status of the woman. Je further says that he has to complete the seven days with the woman to avoid dying.
Odhiambo, (not his real name) is HIV positive, he ‘sleeps’ with women of the same condition as his and also earns a living with it. It is always a hard task and drunk men are the ones chosen to perform the task. He insists on being paid before the task because there was a time they denied him his wages on grounds that he enjoyed having ‘sex’ with the woman.
The ritual needs to take place to cut the spiritual connection between the living life and the dead husband, aimed to send away the spirit of the dead. After cleansing, the woman will be inherited with her in law or a close relative to take care of the children and offer companionship to the widow.