Sexual cleansing of young girls and widows is regarded as one of the most harmful African traditions in modern history. Unfortunately, the practice is very rampant in different parts of the continent including Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, and several others.
In Malawi, girls as young as 12 are forced to have sex with a hired male sex worker, locally known as “hyena,” as a way of initiating them into womanhood. What’s worse, these “hyenas” do not use any form of protection when performing this ritual, thus exposing young girls to deadly diseases such as HIV and early pregnancies.
New widows are also required to sleep with these “hyenas” as a way of cleansing them and protecting them from the spirit of death. This practice has obviously played a huge role in the spread of HIV.