February 25, 1998 |
When Mary Magdelena Akinyi's husband died, the custom of her Luo ethnic group dictated that she be "inherited" by one of her already married brothers-in-law. Akinyi refused. The 24-year-old former nursery school teacher felt the centuries-old cultural practice robs women of their dignity and independence. But what ultimately led her to reject the tradition was fear of death--either her own or that of relatives--from AIDS.