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Malawi president orders arrest of HIV-positive man paid to take girls' virginities

Published:Tuesday | July 26, 2016 | 7:00 PMThe Voice
Eric Aniva ... "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."

The Voice (UK):
A HIV-positive Malawian man, who bragged in documentary about being 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 BBC feature last week.

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", revealed 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, he reported.

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.

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

The president has also ordered all men and parents involved to be investigated.

"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."

In the BBC feature, Aniva, who is in his 40s but would not reveal his exact age, discussed his life as a child sex worker.

"Most of those I have slept with are girls, school-going girls," he said.

"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."

He is paid £3 to £5 by locals to perform the sex rituals.

And village elders, who are responsible for organising the "cleansing", insist that they are necessary to "avoid infection with their parents or the rest of the community".

One of the elders, Chrissie, said: "There's nothing wrong with our culture.

"If you look at today's society, you can see that girls are not responsible, so we have to train our girls in a good manner in the village, so that they don't go astray, are good wives so that the husband is satisfied, and so that nothing bad happens to their families."