HIV-positive man hired to have sex with children in ‘cleansing’ ritual arrested in Malawi

FILE PHOTO © Siphiwe Sibeko
Police have arrested and charged for defilement a Malawian man who claims to have HIV and says he is hired by families to have sex with young women, some of them children, for ritual ‘sexual cleansing’.

The accused, Eric Aniva, said in a number of interviews he is a sex worker - labeled locally a ‘hyena’ - and parents employ him to have sex with young girls when they reach puberty. He also confessed having HIV.

Aniva’s revelations led to the Malawian president ordering his arrest.

In southern regions of Malawi it is traditional for girls to be forced to have sex with a man after their first menstruation, as part of an act of initiation into adulthood - called ‘kusasa fumbi’. The girls can be as young as 12 years old.

The majority of the girls Aniva was with are underage, Malawi police inspector General Lexten Kachama said, as quoted by AP.

President Peter Mutharika said in his official statement that Aniva’s “evil acts” should be probed and the offender should “further be charged accordingly.”

Mutharika added that no such criminal act under the guise of culture could be accepted, and urged security forces to look into all men and parents related to “this shocking malpractice.”

Malawian human rights lawyer Chrispine Sibande said putting one man in prison is far from enough, as “the practice is very rampant in some of parts of the country.”

A Human Rights Watch report two years ago revealed that between 2010 and 2013, some 44,000 Malawian girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy. 

The watchdog urged “to end widespread child marriage” in Malawi. Half of all girls are married before their 18th birthday, the report added. Some are forced to marry as early as aged nine or 10.