Malaw­ian ‘hyena man’ ar­rested for hav­ing sex with chil­dren

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL -

An HIV-pos­i­tive Malaw­ian man, who says he is paid to have sex with chil­dren as part of ini­ti­a­tion rites, has been ar­rested on the pres­i­dent’s or­ders.

Eric Aniva, a sex worker known in Malawi as a “hyena”, was the sub­ject of a re­cent BBC fea­ture. He told the BBC that he did not men­tion his HIV sta­tus to those who hire him.

Pres­i­dent Peter Mutharika said the po­lice should in­ves­ti­gate and charge him over the cases of de­file­ment he had seem­ingly con­fessed to.

The BBC’s Ed But­ler, who covered the story about Malawi’s sex­ual “cleans­ing prac­tices”, says in some re­mote south­ern re­gions of the coun­try it is tra­di­tional for girls to be made to have sex with a man af­ter their first men­stru­a­tion. Some of the girls are as young as 12 years old.

What is known as a “hyena” in Malawi cul­ture is usu­ally a man who has sex with wid­ows or mar­ried women who can­not fall preg­nant.

“While we must pro­mote pos­i­tive cul­tural val­ues and pos­i­tive so­cial­i­sa­tion of our chil­dren, the pres­i­dent says harm­ful cul­tural and tra­di­tional prac­tices can­not be ac­cepted in this coun­try,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman Mgeme Kalilani said in a state­ment.

Mr Aniva would “fur­ther be in­ves­ti­gated for ex­pos­ing the young girls to con­tract­ing HIV and fur­ther be charged ac­cord­ingly,” he said.

The pres­i­dent had also or­dered all men and par­ents in­volved to be in­ves­ti­gated, Mr Kalilani added.

“All peo­ple in­volved in this mal­prac­tice should be held ac­count­able for sub­ject­ing their chil­dren and women to this de­spi­ca­ble evil,” the state­ment said. “These hor­rific prac­tices, although done by a few, also tar­nish the im­age of the whole na­tion of Malawi in­ter­na­tion­ally and bring shame to us all.”

Last year Malawi banned child mar­riage, rais­ing the le­gal age of mar­riage from 15 to 18 - some­thing ac­tivists hoped would put an end to early sex­ual ini­ti­a­tions.

Mr Aniva told the BBC that he planned to stop tak­ing part in sex­ual cleans­ing prac­tices.

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