Verdict for man with HIV who slept with young girls
A verdict is expected this week in the case of a man arrested in Malawi after he told a BBC reporter he had had sex with pubescent girls as part of a “cleansing” ritual.
But some Malawians are asking why only one man is on trial for a practice involving whole communities.
Eric Aniva was arrested in July on presidential orders after he admitted having unprotected sex with girls as young as 12 – and keeping quiet about his HIV-positive status.
Aniva says he was hired by the girls’ relatives to take part in a sexual initiation ceremony which they believe “shakes off” the girl’s childhood “dust” so that she can enter adulthood.
“We believe that if a widow or widower is not sexually cleansed, then bad luck, sudden death or illness will come to some, or all, of the clan,” a social worker said.
When Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika ordered the arrest, he wanted Aniva tried for defiling young girls, but no girls came forward to testify against him. So instead Aniva is being tried for “harmful cultural practice”, in which he had sex with newly bereaved widows.