The HIV-positive Malawian man who confessed to sleeping with underage girls without protection as part of initiation rites has been arrested under President Peter Mutharika’s orders, BBC reports.
Eric Aniva, also known as “hyena,” caused a stir on social media last week after he confessed to sleeping with children without a condom and not revealing his HIV status to families who hired him to have sex with their daughters in accordance with the country’s retrogressive “sexual cleansing” ritual.
“Some girls are just 12 or 13 years old, but I prefer them older. All these girls find pleasure in having me as their hyena. They actually are proud and tell other people that this man is a real man, he knows how to please a woman,” Eric told BBC in an interview.
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President Mutharika further ordered the police to investigate and charge Eric and his accomplices with defilement and exposing children to HIV.
Retrogressive Rituals and Beliefs
Sexual “cleansing” of adolescent girls is a longstanding tradition in some parts of Southern Malawi.
People in this area believe that girls and women in general must have sex as they approach puberty and after having an abortion as a form of ritual cleansing.
Women whose husbands have recently died must have sex with a paid sex worker, commonly referred to as a “hyena,” to cleanse themselves.
BBC reports that girls in this part of Malawi are sent to initiation camps by their families and are forced to engage in unprotected sex for three days.They believe “sexual cleansing” helps to protect the girl’s family and community in general from diseases and other calamities.
The same tradition prohibits the use of condoms, and it’s believed that the “hyenas” are disease-free due to their “good morals.”
Spread of HIV
This initiation ritual is still being practiced in many parts of Southern Malawi, putting thousands of young girls at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and getting pregnant.
Eric says he has slept with over 100 women and girls and did not use protection with any of them despite his HIV positive status.
Latest statistics show that one in every ten people in Malawi has HIV.