Three women in Zimbabwe accused of raping at least four men to get their sperm for traditional rituals.
The women, who have been charged with 17 counts of aggravated indecent assault, go on trial today in a case that has shocked the country.
Police officials in Zimbabwe believe the alleged perpetrators are part of a nationwide syndicate that may be using the sperm for a traditional ritual claiming to make people lucky and wealthy.
They were apprehended in a town about 170 miles outside of the capital city of Harare after police found 31 used condoms in their car. At least nine men have come forward with similar stories of being attacked.
One of the alleged victims told his story on a popular national talk show called Maichiamba. He said he was raped after accepting a car ride from the women.
"One of the women threw water in my face and they injected me with something that gave me a strong sexual desire. They stopped the car and made me have sex with each of them several times, using condoms," he said. "When they had finished they left me in the bush totally naked."
The man said he went to the hospital to be treated for the drug's effects and called the police. After facing ridicule and scorn over the attack, he said he came forward publicly because he wanted to help other victims.
Female Rapists Go On Trial Today
"I've noticed that the men who have come forward are really traumatized after seeking medical assistance of these rapes and need counselling," Kelvin Hazangwi, National Director of the Padare Menâ's Forum on Gender, tells ABC News. "Some of them, their partners left them and they could not go back to their families. Their social networks have broken down."
Hazangwi says that male rape is still a taboo subject in a society that has very clear definitions of masculinity. For example the women have been charged with aggravated indecent assault rather than rape because a man being sexually assaulted by a woman is not recognized under Zimbabwean rape laws.
"This case is shocking not only for the men but also for the society as a whole," says Hazangwi. "Many people drove to the police station just to get a glimpse or a view of the women that would rape men."
The women have denied the charges, claiming they are prostitutes and did not have time to dispose of the condoms. Cousins Rosemary Chakwizira, 24, and Sophie Nhokwara, 26 told local media that since being out on $300 bail, they've been in hiding after having their lives threatened.
"Are we not suspects until proven guilty? It's as if people have already made their judgments and found us guilty," Nhokwara said in an interview with New Zimbabwe.com.
Regardless of the outcome, the case has started a dialogue in the country about attitudes and treatment of sexual violence against men
"We are realizing that rape whether it happens to grandmother, a child, or a man is wrong," Hazangwi says.