Malawi man held over paid sex with 100 girls

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

BLAN­TYRE — Malawi po­lice have ar­rested an HIV-in­fected man who was paid to have sex with more than 100 ado­les­cent girls as part of a tra­di­tional rit­ual mark­ing their pas­sage to wom­an­hood, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

Eric Aniva, from the south­ern district of Nsanje, was held af­ter giv­ing a me­dia in­ter­view con­fess­ing to have slept with the girls for a fee of be­tween four and seven dol­lars, paid by each of their fam­i­lies.

The lit­tle-known local prac­tice lasts three days and is per­formed in south­ern Malawi by men known as “hye­nas” at the re­quest of a girl’s par­ents af­ter her first men­stru­a­tion.

The rit­ual is be­lieved to train girls to be­come good wives and to pro­tect them from dis­ease or mis­for­tune that could fall on their fam­i­lies or their vil­lage.

“Aniva was ar­rested on Mon­day af­ter he was sum­moned to my of­fice,” district com­mis­sioner Gift Lapozo told AFP.

In a BBC in­ter­view broad­cast last week, Aniva con­fessed to be­ing in­fected with HIV and sleep­ing with at least 100 girls with­out us­ing pro­tec­tion.

“Some girls are just 12 or 13 years old, but I pre­fer them older,” he said.

“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.”

It was un­clear over how many years Aniva had been a “hyena”.

Malaw­ian Pres­i­dent Peter Mutharika had ear­lier is­sued a state­ment or­der­ing Aniva’s ar­rest and call­ing for an in­quiry into the role of the par­ents in­volved.

Aniva should “be in­ves­ti­gated for ex­pos­ing the young girls to con­tract­ing HIV and fur­ther be charged ac­cord­ingly,” Mutharika added.

“Harm­ful cul­tural and tra­di­tional prac­tices can­not be ac­cepted.”

The sex­ual cleans­ing rit­ual is also per­formed on be­reaved wid­ows in Nsanje district to ex­or­cise vil­lages of evil spir­its or to pre­vent an­other death oc­cur­ring.

Aniva, who has two wives and was re­ported to be in his 40s, said a “hyena” was se­lected by the com­mu­nity based on good morals and that cus­tom did not al­low him to use con­doms.

“There was noth­ing else I could have done,” one girl told the BBC.

“I had to do it for the sake of my par­ents. If I’d re­fused, my fam­ily mem­bers could be at­tacked with dis­eases — even death — so I was scared.”

Malawi, which has one of the high­est HIV in­fec­tions in the world, crim­i­nalises sex with a per­son un­der the age of 16.

If found guilty of un­der­age sex, Aniva could be im­pris­oned for life. — AFP.

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