An HIV-positive Malawian man, Eric Aniva, who was arrested in July after he confessed to raping girls and women as part of sexual cleansing rituals in Malawi, will appear in court on Friday for his expected verdict.
In an interview with BBC, Eric, who is known as the “hyena”, confessed to having unprotected sex with 104 women and girls – with some being as young as just 12 but added that he preferred them older, adding that he had sex with newly bereaved widows as part of the ‘cleansing ritual.’..
He also told the BBC he kept quiet about his HIV-positive status after being hired for £3-a-time by the families of the children to perform the sexual initiation.. He then went further by saying the girls took “pleasure” in the abuse and were “proud” to tell other people.
The so-called “sexual cleansing” is common practice in southern Malawi, and women are required to participate at various points in their life – including if their husband dies or if they have an abortion. Young girls are sent to “initiation camps” by their families before puberty, where they are taught how to have sex.
They are forced into the act over three days after their first period “to avoid infection with their parents or the rest of the community”. “Hyenas” are trusted to be disease-free due to their “good morals” – and condoms are prohibited in Malawi tradition.
Speaking outside a hospital that treats HIV sufferers in the city of Blantyre, Pastor Paul Mzimu told the BBC:
“How can someone with this status do what he did?
“I think this man is the devil – greedy and selfish. If I could judge him, I would give him a murder sentence and life imprisonment.
If convicted, Eric faces a possible five-year jail term.