Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Malawi arrests man paid to have sex with over 100 children

Malawi police have arrested Eric Aniva, 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.

Aniva was held after granting a BBC interview confessing to have slept with the girls for a fee of between $4 to $7, paid by each of their families. The practice lasts 3 days and is performed 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 last week, Aniva confessed to being infected with HIV and sleeping with the girls without using protection. "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."

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.

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. 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, Aniva could be imprisoned for life.

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