The twenty-first century is a billboard of paradoxes. On one end we have women running for presidency in the United States, whereas in some remote regions of Malawi in Africa, a man tested positive for HIV is paid to have sex with little girls. The ritual apparently initiates them into womanhood, and it's mandatory for every female.
According to BBC News, after the very first cycle of menstruation, girls are supposed to have sex with a 'hyena', a sex worker hired by the parents to initiate their daughters into womanhood. Girls as young as ten are a part of this rite of initiation. If they refuse, they are threatened with the fear of diseases that might hit them and their family.
The custom's not limited to girls alone. Women who are widowed, have a miscarriage or an abortion, have to go through the process of 'cleansing' for which they need to sleep with a hyena.
Eric Aniva is a professional hyena, and he's paid between $4-7 for each initiation. He's in his forties and claims to have slept with 104 women. However, that figure was quoted by him to a local newspaper in 2012, so it can be said that he has probably lost count of the women and children he has 'cleansed'. He has no idea about the number of women he impregnated.
However, this cleansing makes women susceptible to diseases like HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the rituals.They cannot use any protection during the ritual. Aniva is HIV positive, yet he's still hired for the initiation of young girls. So basically any woman who has sex with him contracts the virus.
"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," he says
Aniva has two little daughters of his own. When his wife was asked if she would make her daughters go through the same ritual, she had a surprising answer to give, "Not my daughter. I cannot allow this." In fact, she wanted this "ancient malpractice" to be put to an end.
The practice is kept a secret from the churches and NGOs in the locality so that it is not stopped by them. There is a small ray of hope in the fact that many leaders in Malawi are beginning to see the custom as outdated and evil. "We are not going to condemn these people,” says Dr. May Shaba, a representative of Malawian Ministry of Gender and Welfare, "but we are going to give them information that they need to change their rituals.”