A Cambodian court has jailed an HIV-positive man for 10 years for raping his wife without using a condom, the first conviction under landmark AIDS laws introduced in 2003, court officials said on Friday.
Meas My, a 40-year-old sailor, was arrested in January last year after his wife complained to police about his refusal to use a condom during sex, even though he had been confirmed as having HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
When his wife refused to have sex with him, he beat her and then raped her, prosecutors said.
“Her husband did not respect her love toward him. We cannot tolerate his acts,” said prosecutor Ngeth Sarath, commenting on the ruling handed down late on Thursday.
He did not reveal whether the wife had contracted HIV.
Meas My’s conviction was the first in the Southeast Asian nation under laws passed in 2003 allowing courts to jail anybody for 10 to 15 years for infecting, or trying to infect, another person with HIV.
Deliberately transmitting the AIDS virus is a crime in the majority of U.S. states and many other wealthy countries, although such legislation is rare in the developing world.
Cambodia has one of the highest HIV and AIDS infection rates in the Asia-Pacific region, although public education and condom use campaigns have caused levels to drop to 1.9 percent of the population in 2004 from 3.3 percent in 1998.
After concerted efforts to increase condom use in the sex industry, campaigners are now pushing for the same between married partners to try to prevent transmission of the virus in the home.
At least 70,000 Cambodian children have been orphaned by AIDS, according to the National AIDS Authority.
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.