A 40-year old man who is infected with HIV has said he is tired of being given money to sleep with children.
The man identified as Eric Aniva revealed that he has slept with over 100 women and girls, some as young as 12. For the services, he is paid about K2000 but he claims that he now performs fewer cleansings.
“I still do rituals here and there [but] I am stopping,” said Aniva.
In Nsanje where Aniva lives and in other parts of Malawi, women and girls are forced to have sex with men known as Hyenas as punishment for having abortion or as a ritual that is conducted when their husbands die. Hyenas also have sex with girls who have had their first menstruation in order to “cleanse” them.
The communities regard Hyenas’ work as necessary for protecting families of the women or sometimes the whole communities. But such rituals have for a long time been blamed for the spread of HIV.
Aniva says he does not reveal to the parents of the young girls that he is HIV positive even though he is required to have sex with the women without using condoms.
One of the elders who organise the girls in Aniva’s village insisted that there is nothing wrong with the ritual since it helps train girls so that they should not go astray.
Asked to comment on the issue, principal secretary in the ministry of gender Mary Shawa said: “We are not going to condemn these people but we are going to give them information that they need to change their rituals.”