Male hitchhikers in Zimbabwe are wary of being picked up for fear of being raped by female attackers who look towards harvesting their sperm for suspected ritual purposes, the AFP reported.

Local authorities in Zimbabwe are investigating the spate of sexual assaults on men which the attackers believe will bring good luck. According to the report, naïve travelers are picked up by gangs of beautiful women and are drugged and forced to have sex and later dumped on the freeways. Some of the attackers are armed, using guns, knives and, in one instance, a live snake was used to overpower victims, before collecting their semen in condoms.

The news service added that such incidents have been on the rise since 2009, but so far only three women were arrested after police found a stash of knotted condoms in October 2011. However, due to unavailability of DNA evidence and with Zimbabwean law yet to recognize female rapists, the trial was postponed.

In the same year, several prostitutes in the country were found selling their clients' semen. According to the website African Spotlight, each sperm-filled condom sells for about US$400.

To Zimbabwean local Tende Marahu, the incidents come as no surprise. It started a long time back, he was quoted as saying to AFP.  To me, I didn't get shocked because I already knew it was happening.

Many suspect that the exact purpose of forcibly collecting semen is meant for business purposes or even Juju, a form of African witchcraft. According to the report, attackers refrain from collecting semen from loved ones as the rituals bring bad luck and, in some cases, even death to the victims.

Watch Ruparanganda, a sociologist from the University of Zimbabwe, found that semen was increasingly used as a tradable commodity. Ruparanganda revealed how several young men would be taken to hotels to engage in sex with prostitutes and then told to turn over their used condoms.

It just shows there's some big racket somewhere, some big guys driving everything, but they are in the background and using these ladies, the sociologist said to the news service.

So far, local authorities have not revealed the exact number of confirmed incidents. Nakai Nengomasha, a counselor who's worked with such victims, suggested there could be more cases which have gone unreported.

I think there has been a lot of under-reporting because the victims will feel not man enough to talk about such issues and that will hinder them from speaking out, Nengomasha was quoted as saying to the BBC. Some have to deal with the issue of seeing the assault as a loss of manhood and feel disgusted with themselves, the counselor added.

In order to avoid being targeted by these sperm hunters, national police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena cautioned Zimbabwean men against traveling alone.  

We encourage people to use public transport, he was quoted as saying to AFP.