Child Marriage, Mozambique, 2014

Malawi’s Cleansing Tradition: Man Gets Paid For Sleeping With Girls, Widows!

One of the weirdest of many traditions that the world’s follows even today, is this one from Malawi. It gave me chills when I first read about it, this heinous and dangerous crime not ritual should be condemned and should not be practiced.

Parents in the remote parts of Malawi send their daughters to ‘Hyena’, one man the community has selected to have sex with the girls who have hit the puberty. The community does not believe it to be a rape or a crime but instead consider it as a ‘Cleansing’ tradition.

Eric Aniva, a man is his 40’s is a Hyena selected by the community in Nsanje district in southern Malawi. He is the preeminent Hyena of the village and is proud of it. A sexual cleansing is required when a woman becomes a widow – She first needs to have sex with Aniva and then can bury her husband, Women who faced an abortion also need a cleansing says the tradition. Teenage girls, who gets their first menstruation are forcibly made to have sex with Hyena for over a period of three days and if they refuse it is believed that diseases and misfortune would embrace the girl and her family or even the whole village.’

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Ed Butler from BBC News was told by Eric Alvina, “Most of those I have slept with are school-going girls,” “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.”

Despite his boosts, Ed says he has met women and girls who are against the practice: “There was nothing else I could have done. I had to do it for the sake of my parents,” “If I’d refused, my family members could be attacked with diseases – even death – so I was scared.” Says Maria, one of the girl who went to Hyena.

Eric Aniva has two wives, five children and has slept almost 104 girls till 2012, later he did lost the count on the women he slept with. There are about 10 Hyenas in this community and they are paid from $4 to $7 each time. To add more to the shocks comes the ‘No Condom’ custom!!

South to the Village, there are Fagisi, Chrissie and Phelia, women all in their 50’s are the one’s who maintains the tradition in the village. They organize camps where they teach girls about adolescent, their responsibilities as wives and how to please a man sexually. “Sexual Cleansing” is the last stage of the camp which is voluntarily arranged by the parents. The three leading ladies feels it is an essential part of life  “to avoid infection with their parents or the rest of the community”.

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According to UN, 1 in every 10 Malawians carry HIV infection. The community is in huge risk of ending their lineages with their cleansing as the chances of HIV spread four folds when intercourse happens without a protection, that too with so many women! And the reporter also astounded us by disclosing that Eric is HIV positive and he does not mention the same to the girl’s parents before taking her for the night.

The ritual is being interrupted by NGO’s, Churches and government by educating more and more people from the village. Recently on 26th of July, Eric Aniva was arrested  on the orders of Malawian President Peter Mutharika for being HIV+ve and having Sex with children and women.

Watch Eric Aniva here:  

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