President Mutharika orders arrest of HIV-infected man paid to devirginise girls in Malawi: ‘This nonsense of Hyena culture must stop’

Malawi President Peter Mutharika has ordered the arrest of  Eric Aniva, an HIV-infected man in Nsanje district  of the southern Malawi who has the job of devirginising girls who had just their first menstruation.

Aniva: 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.

Aniva: 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.

Aniva with a root which he grinds up and adds to water to drink before sex

Aniva with a root which he grinds up and adds to water to drink before sex

From left to right: Aniva, Fanny with their youngest child, Fanny's sister and a former client

From left to right: Aniva, Fanny with their youngest child, Fanny’s sister and a former client

Aniva, a Malawian in his forties, is what’s known as a ‘hyena’ – a man paid to have sex with young girls as a form of ritual cleansing.

Sexual cleansing involving ‘hyenas’  is common practice in southern Malawi- and women are required to participate in it at various points in their life, including if their husband has died or if they have an abortion.

The  story Aniva has hit headlines in international media prompting President Mutharika to condemn the sexual violations against girls in Nsanje district and other parts of the country, saying it is v”ery disturbing and unacceptable.”

Mutharika,  according to a statement issued by Presidential spokesman Mgeme Kalilani,  said it is shokcing that the sexual violations are reportedly done with the full knowledge and support of some parents who ironically are supposed to be the guardians of the innocent children and the girls.

“Am reliably informed that these violations are done under the guise of culture which I find to be very extremely unacceptable,” said Mutharika.

The story has gone viral after a BBC News report in which Aniva explained that  he takes a child’s virginity in a three –day sexual cleansing ritual.

Aniva said: “Most of those I have slept with are girls, 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.”

Aniva says he is one of 10 “hyenas” operating in his community and he is paid K3,000 to K6,000 (about $3.9 to $6.6) by locals to perform the rituals.

Despite his declaration that there was nothing wrong with the practice and that the girls actually enjoyed it, one local woman said she was pressured into taking part.

President Mutharika, reacting to the reports,  has directed the Police to “immediately arrest Mr. Eric Aniva”, a State House statement said.

The President also wants police to investigate him and prosecute the sexual predator for the defilement cases which he apparently confesses to.

“And since Mr. Eric Aniva confesses to be HIV positive and that he never uses protection in his evil acts against the innocent girls and women, he should further be investigated for exposing the young girls to contracting HIV and further be charged accordingly,” President Mutharika said.

The President has also directed the Police, the District Commissioner and Chiefs in Nsanje to investigate all men and parents involved in this shocking malpractice.

“ All people involved in this malpractice should beheld accountable for subjecting their children and women to this despicable evil,” said Mutharika.

The President says harmful cultural and traditional practices such as sexual cleansing cannot be accepted in Malawi.

“These practices not only cast a shadow on the hard-earned achievements my Government has made on issues such as violence and HIV prevention but they also go against a vision of development that seeks to ensure that the youth (and in particular young girls), are able to achieve their full potential.

“Furthermore, these horrific practices although done by a few also tarnish the image of the whole nation of Malawi internationally and bring shame to us all,” said Mutharika.

The President reiterates that his government will not tolerate human rights violations upon any child, girl or woman.

Mutharika has since called on all citizens and in particular guardians as well as parents and leaders at all levels, to guard against harmful practices that expose children, girls and women to danger and violate their fundamental human rights.

“ Children, girls and women must be cared for, protected and provided every opportunity to survive peacefully and become productive citizens.

“Together, we owe to the more vulnerable in society to make a commitment to make this country a safer place for our children and women, for the future development of Malawi.”

In the report published by BBC magazine, Dr May Shaba, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Gender and Welfare, said: “We are not going to condemn these people. But we are going to give them information that they need to change their rituals.”

Charity organisations are working towards stopping the socially sanctioned gender-based violence through education.

Dr Howard Kasiya, health expert and director of the Adolescent Girls’ Advocacy Network of Malawi, told  The Guardian that being to undergo ‘sexual cleansing’ is ‘often a death sentence for girls’.

‘Malawi has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world and 10 per cent of the population is HIV-positive,’ Dr Kasiya said.

When girls are forced to sleep with ‘hyenas’ they are often then pushed into arranged marriages.

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48 thoughts on “President Mutharika orders arrest of HIV-infected man paid to devirginise girls in Malawi: ‘This nonsense of Hyena culture must stop’”

  1. Chidyamakanda says:

    The root cause of all this is because of lack of education.

    Education is not possible because there is no money for schools. 7 cashgate ministers shared all the money for our schools amongst themselves.

    To solve this hyena problem we must arrest and prosecute the 7 cashgate ministers to stop any further future pilferages of donor and Malawian tax payers money.

  2. Ine mu diaspora says:

    Don’t forget to add that people also hire a hyena when they have fertility issues. People hire a hyena to impregnate their wives when they are failing to do so themselves. If you are a Malawian and claim not to know of the existence of hyenas then ndiwe mbuli-dala.

  3. Concerned says:

    There is need for awareness for the parents in the district as no one has ever died or infected with a disease just because their daughter did not undergo this stupid cultural belief.

  4. Thank you His Excellency Mutharika for calling for his arrest. This is a horrible act for both the man and the parents.

  5. paul says:

    He should be tried for genocide and entire villages and their chief must be sent on mandatory education program. All Malawians should come out and condemn such archaic traditions. It deprives the economy of vital human resources at such perilous times.

  6. Chimunthu says:

    Considering that this barbaric practice is widespread and well known in Malawi, why did it take a BBC investigation to prompt action from the government? Had the BBC not made it public, would the government have continued to do nothing? Does the government really know what goes on in the country? Clearly this case demonstrates how the government only takes action when it is shamed into doing so. Malawi is a backward country led by a backward government.

  7. Rennecl says:

    Munthuyu ngosalakwa. sanayambe wafunsila munthu. Anthu amachita kukamuputa, azimayi kumamuchemelela nkati. A Malawi tisamachite manyazi ndi chikhwalidwe chathu. Vuto si mkuluyi ayi. Bwanji palibe amene anakana? Tiziganiza mokwanila.

  8. Mgonapamhanya says:

    Culture should be encouraged because it’s what defines people. However, some elements of culture need to be criminalized because they directly violets human and child rights. Examples include but not limited to genital mutilation and sexual cleansing. Culture is dynamic, let’s always keep modifying it to suit the times and circumstances. For example, in Western World, they still use the services of a “hyena” in the case where a couple is having problems conceiving. And they have perfected their “hyena” in fertility clinics and sperm banks. They even use surrogate mothers to develop an embryo.

  9. Cosmas Chisale Ngondo says:

    While we applaud the President for condemning this horrendous behavior, we need to ask ourselves serious questions as to why 31 years after the first case of HIV was reported this behavior has gone unchecked. The case in question is just a tip of the iceberg. BBC even provided a map which clearly shows that in nearly all districts of the southern region such practices where girls are exposed to dangers of HIV exist including the President’s own tribe. By arresting one person we are using him as a scapegoat. Serious programs out to roll out on how people can fight the dangerous epidemic. Education is one of those tools. But we have scraped off JCE which was a “consolation” for those with little means of survival. Now even university education is meant for the affluent. How do we make strides in fighting AIDS in this scenario?

  10. Achimidzimidzi says:

    Am sure these reports have around for long time. Two or three tribes in Malawi do the Fisi cleansing practices. So don’t pretend that this is your first time to hear about fisi.

    I don’t think punishing this man is socially correct, Mr President. Just explain to him why its wrong to do fisi cleansing and let him be a mentor in his community.

  11. mbuyuni says:

    What are cultural practices? Are they accepted by our laws? Is homosexuality our cultural practice or our human right? If we Malawi had no HIV, would this practice allowed or those involved should first be screened for HIV?

    1. damnfinecoffee says:

      Homosexuality is genetic. It is not a “right”, it is simply nature for some people. This practice, however should not be allowed, as it is child sex abuse.

  12. mjiba says:

    This shows that most Malawian decision makers at district level are either incompetent or do not outright monitor events at the district, national, regional and international level. Did the whole Malawi Police Service had to wait for an order to come from the President to take action on this matter? What about the noisy NGOs who are busy chewing on the money from donors did they not see this on nyasatimes and the BBC? ha he ha Malawi dzuka

  13. mukwame says:

    Arresting who? the actor or the society and its. culture. As much as Mr Aniva is guilty of infecting innocent girls with HIV I feel arresting him alone would be unfair considering that the act was accepted by his society including the parents of the innocent girls , Aniva’s wives, chiefs ,the list is endless.Who knows may be got the HIV from his clients .Assuming he got the HIV from his clients , who should be arrested then? Food for thought Kkkkkkkkkkkkk

  14. Ndirande Love says:

    I love what our president has done. But I am still surprised why He is making a decision to arrest the Hyena basing on BBC News. What i can remind you Mr president is that – Do the same to the cashgate Ministers basing on the information you have. Bwana Professor priorities maters in this country. Do you want BBC to write news for you to act Bwana Professor Arthur Peter Wamuthalika? respond ……….

  15. Youna says:

    Decisions zopangidwa ndimkwiyo sizimathandiza. Please address the culture itself instead of individuals. Any culture in Malawi has a negative side of human rights. Ku jando, ku dambwe … just to mention a few kumachitika ma horror mpakana ena amatayako miyoyo. We need to work on change of mind set as far as culture is concerned.

  16. Kadziotche says:

    Mr. President, bravo! This nonsense must indeed stop.
    I however do not know how the courts will go ahead with this case of devirginization of young girls.Unless the ‘hyena culture’ is criminalised in the Laws of Malawi, Aniva is not at fault.The prosecution will have to prepare its charges carefully.Aniva is not a rapist.The young girls were presented to him willfully by their parents or should we say by cultural norms.The fact that Aniva’s confession of the heinous deed is on record of print and electronic media- it does not incriminate him.
    Perhaps Aniva’s clear offense here would be deliberately spreading HIV/Aids by sleeping with his clients without any protection with his known sero status. Otherwise we as Malawians should not seem to care now because BBC have exposed us.
    CSO’s on HIV/Aids and academic papers have produced reports on bad cultural practices that promote the spread of the pandemic disease but Government and the Judiciary have not acted on the recommendations for the past 20 years or so.These papers are just gathering dust in the high places and college libraries.

  17. Banda Banda says:

    Zachisoni basi munthu kumasekelela ali amunanga nda “hyena” ..Zomba Maximum Prison apo bii majete game reserve kwa ma hyena anzake

  18. Ine Ndekha says:

    Fuko lomvetsa chisoni…moti timadikira BBC ibwere kuti tilankhule ndi kuchitapo kanthu pa nkhani yonyasa ngati imeneyi..makolo, mafumu, a DC, ndi ena apafupi ku Nsanje, tiziti simumadziwa kuti zimenezi zikuchitika…nanu apolisi muzichita kudikira kuwuzidwa kuti mugwire ntchito yanu?? ndikadakhala Pitala ndinali ndi ka mulu ndithu kofunika kunjata kapena kutsa ntchito ndiiiithuu!!!

    1. mgoloso says:

      Kusaphunzira ndikufa komwe – zomvetsa chisoni abale a ku Nsanje. Koma amfumu Lundu, Mulolo, Mbenje, Malemia, Nyachikaza mulipo? kapena munatisiya?. Bwanji mukulola zinthu zonyansazi kumachitika m’dera mwanu?. Ntchito ziphuphu basi!!!!!! – mafumu omvetsa chisoni awa sindinawaone

  19. Mr President u’r right for the direction so in addition to that arrest all the Ministers involved in the Cash gate Scandle don’t shield and protect them.

  20. Zulu says:

    But this guy has been hired for the service all along by the girls’ parents. What has been done about them as they also have had a hand in the evil acts?

  21. it will be much helpful to also punish the initiators of this cultural practice which is in my view the chiefs who are custodians in our culture, punishing this one Hyena alone is not solving the problem, did this ANiva hyena just woke up and decide to be doing this in his own capacity or he was just fulfilling what a certain group in the community agreed upon?

  22. Thinking Aloud says:

    There are many others who have openly come out to admit having practiced the vice and are now working with various NGO’s in awareness campaigns to stop this cultiral practice. Shall all those who confessed but did not talk to BBC be areested for investigatipn as well?

  23. Ine says:

    Koma Fisiyo azikadya chani ku prisonko?

  24. Nabetha says:

    The president is very right to condemn and criticise this immoral tradition. This is an evil act that should not be given space in our traditional cultures. I’m also very interested to note that the president has exercised his rights as the head of the state by ordering the arrest of Mr. Anita.

    Fortunately, I have also come to note that this tradition of cleansing young girls is not the only belief that brings shame and disgrace to our country. The president should also speak tough on homosexuality because it brings no moral values to the mankind just as this ritual of cleansing young girls.

    If the president has also realised that he can use his presidential powers to command the arrest of somebody, he should also use the same powers to order the ACB to arrest the perpetrators of the K577 billion.

    People will only start taking this president seriously once he stops playing double standards.

  25. Trendex says:

    THE PRESIDENT SHOULD MAKE A SIMILAR SWIFT AS TO NSANJE HYENA IN BRINGING ALL THE MINISTERS INVOLVED IN THE CASHGATE ACCORDING TO FORENSIC AUDIT. HE SHOULD NOT PLAY A SELECTIVE JUSTICE SEEING TO IT THAT THE HYENA IS A POOR MAN AND THE MINISTERS INVOLVED FAIL TO FIX THEIR NECK TIES.

  26. The Analyst says:

    O…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………O
    Bravo APM, its a mark of responsibility to be aware of, and show concern about things happening around.
    . . . And it now shows that u professor plus kukhala kunja zikukuthandizani, coz all previous presidents thought that this is normal. “Its our culture,” they used to say, forgeting that “Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” – St Augustine
    ……………………………………………………………………………………
    But, wait a minute . ..
    . . . did it have to take the whole Head of State to see that something is/was wrong hence the order?
    . . . why not the Inspector General of Police? Since what this person was/is doing is criminal, in nature. Nanga
    . . . did the police not see that chewing 12 or 13 yrs old toddlers/pupils/kids is defilement? hence criminal?
    . . . couldnt the intellectually ungifted police sense that deliberating infecting the kids with HIV, is punishable?
    Somebody, somewhere should have done something about this. We never had to wait for APM.
    …………………………………………………………………………………..
    Besides the police, whats also strange is the silence from other quarters . . .
    . . . isnt what this hyena did/does a human rights issue? certainly it is!
    . . . what did these fly-by-night human rights activists or street law-experts do or say? Nothing! Let them know . .
    “In the end, we shall remember, not the voice of our enemy; but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King Jr
    ………………………………………………………………………………….
    Govt should step up efforts to end all such cultural practices as these. Arrest everybody involved – including chiefs (dont mind the votes), parents, “the hyenas” themselves, e.t.c
    . . . We cant afford to be exposed to danger on the pretex of some foolish culture by some ignorant people.
    O………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………O

    1. Mr Analyst one more thing you forgot to highlight, the president only acts when the news hit the international headline

      1. CHIPEZAYANI KASIYAGOLI says:

        IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DO ANYTHING UNLESS IT IS REPORTED THE WAY IT HAS HAPPENED.WHEN IT WAS REPORTED ON BBC SOME OF MALAWIANS OUTSIDE OR WORKING OUT SIDE EVEN WITH UN WERE APPROACHED ON THE MATTER AND TO ASK THE RELIABLE INSTITUATION TO INVESTIGATE THE MATTER.THANKS FOR THE PRESIDENT’S INTERVENTION.

      2. The Analyst says:

        Exactly, finale
        . . . besides the police who cant think on their own; APM also never had to wait for the BBC to come from (who knows where) to tell him that his house is burning, yet he is right inside the house.

      3. Boko says:

        finale wa kabaza is right. This is not an issue to congratulate APM for. Did he have to wait until BBC reports bout the issue? This is a reactive, and not proactive president, who takes no initiative on his own until something horribly goes wrong. Malawi has been ashamed as if we have no president. Paja Analyst ndi Mlakho.

        1. The Analyst says:

          O……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………O
          “Paja Analyst ndi Mulhako”? Kikikikiki, not true . . .
          . . . Truth is, APM is very slow, in thinking and acting. Now, when such a person’s body shows some signs of life (activity), should we not acknowledge it?
          . . . All previous presidents have, for decades; known (through the media and other sources) about existence of this evil practice, what have they done about it? Nothing! This APM has acted (out of shame or otherwise), and the fairest thing we can do is completely dismiss him?, all because he has acted by reacting? Come on guys!
          . . . On this issue, I wud rather feel happy he has acted, than feel sad that he has acted by reacting.
          O……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………O

  27. Real Kyungu says:

    Well done Peter, Fiti imeneyi ifinyike basi

    1. Eduardo says:

      Bravo Mr. President-that is the way to go. Mwakhwana bwana. Ose ochita zopusa anjatidwe basi.

  28. Buyelekhaya says:

    Mkuluyu adayamba kalekale mchitidwewu. Koma anatengeke ndi a BBC nkumalankhula mwachidamula. Lero ndi izi. Mukachitika tsoka kwambiri achimwene mukafera konko ku ndende! Ngati mungampeze lawyer wozitsata mwina mupulumuka.

  29. RENEGADE says:

    This is disturbing indeed, what value does this cultural practice bring to human being? I commend the president for directing that the man arrest. Its shameful to me as a Malawian to associate my country with such people and practices. This is very common with asena, they even sleep with their biological sisters despite getting good education. I know certain people of sena ethnic that sleep with their biological sisters. SHAME!

    1. kate says:

      vuto si munthuyo ayi koma the stupid tradition ya anthu nnonse ochokera ku central ndi kumwera kwa Malawi. izi ku Mpoto kwa dziko lino kulibe koma uchhitsiru wa anthu inu ndi umene ukubweletsa this evil act. leave the Man alone. kwa iyeyo akunjoya koma kwa inu ndi ana anu mukulandila matenda. what a stupid tradition and its people!! you have contaminated most of the parts in the country with your evil tradition. very stupid indeed.

  30. Dilawo says:

    Sorry nation. Did it have to take the BBC to release the story for the so-called president to act? The back-ward southerners have been doing this all along and what’s the matter now?

    1. Comments First Story Later says:

      Dilawo, what do you mean by ‘backward Southerners’? Ndiwe munthu opusa kwambiri.

    2. aaa! iwe Dilawo ndiwe deal, it just shows that our president is nothing but a dunderhead who has no clue to fix problems in our country

  31. nyotso says:

    Yes!!!!! now my president is talking

  32. Jiyan says:

    The president is so right that this is so shameful to the nation. I would also like remind the President that the K577 Billion Cashgate is more shameful than this one. Why are you not ordering the arrests of the culprits? Shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  33. SillyMalawi says:

    Silly Aniva! How can you say girls appreciate your sexual skills when you confess that they are virgins until you break their virginity. This simply means that the girls have no basis for comparison, and thus, its just your imagination and not the girls’ own views. In fact, these girls are hopeless and victims of a useless cultural construction based on instilling fear that the unknown spirits will punish them or their families in case they refuse the practice. Shame on you Aniva, shame on the hyena culture!

  34. mike says:

    Umbulinso ndi womwe wakula…..

    1. Bruno Bethel says:

      Why are we acting the pharasiac syndrom to the world today? Does it mean we did not know about this hyaena issue in our mother land? Is it not also written in our books and taught in some schools? or is it just stories of our fore fathers? The church is not there? how about religious organisations? the human rights bodies. Tell me about the international bodies, is it true they did not know?
      We have all sinned. This is our own sin before God. Oh God have mercy on us, we have sinned against your human kind and against yourself. Merciful Father forgive us in Jesus Name.

      1. wanadinadi says:

        Peter, that is right. You have shown to be a caring president. i have really loved you directive. Innocent girls are forced into diabolical actions which might have been existed in stone age. keep it up Arthur.

        1. makonyola says:

          This story, if I vividly recall, appeared on TVM some few years ago. I remember this man claiming to have had 105 clients. So it’s not news to me but I wonder what the Malawi Police Service has been doing all this time until the news broke-out on BBC. Investigations should include visiting the MBC TV Library on recordings of similar nature, am sure you get it all.

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