As the BBC reports, this is not seen as rape by the village elders, but a form of “cleansing” – but in the case of this story, the man is HIV positive.
Reporter Ed Butler met the man, Eric Aniva in the Nsanje district in southern Malawi.
A ‘hyena’ is a man hired by communities in several remote parts of southern Malawi to provide what’s called sexual “cleansing”.
If a man dies, his wife is required by tradition to sleep with Aniva before she can bury him. If a woman has an abortion, again sexual cleansing is required.
“After a girl’s first menstruation, he is hired to have sex over a three-day period, to mark their passage from childhood to womanhood. If the girls refuse, it’s believed, disease or some fatal misfortune could befall their families or the village as a whole,” the BBC reports.
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The man tells Butler some girls are as young as 12, and claims to have slept with 104 women and girls. He is paid between $4 to $7 per time.
The BBC also meets women who are “custodians of the initiation traditions” in their village.
They teach the girls about about their duties as wives and how to please a man sexually. The “sexual cleansing” with the hyena is the final stage of this process, arranged voluntarily by the girl’s parents.
They tell Butler sex with the hyena must never be protected with the use of condoms, and tell him a hyena is hand-picked for his good morals, and therefore cannot be infected with HIV/Aids. However, the man does not tell a girl’s parents when they hire him that he is HIV positive.
The practice is condemned by the church, NGOs and the government which has launched a campaign against it.
The BBC story, released on Thursday 21 July, has been shared over 4000 times on Facebook across the globe, with thousands of comments condemning the practice.
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