Eric Aniva, who is HIV positive, unabashedly claimed he has had sex with more than 100 women, most of them underage. Some were as young as 12.
He was paid to do this, often by the girls’ parents, he said.
On Tuesday, he was arrested on orders from President Peter Mutharika, who learned of the incidents through an interview Aniva gave the BBC last week.
Aniva was charged with defilement, Malawi Police Inspector General Lexten Kachama told the Associated Press.
“Out of the many women he had sex with, most of them were underage children,” Kachama said, meaning they were younger than 16. The age of consent in Malawi was changed from 13 to 16 in 2011, the Guardian reported.
Aniva is what’s known as a “hyena,” or a “fisis.” The term, used in certain villages in the southeastern African country, refers to a male who is hired to have sex with women and girls for ritualistic purposes, the Atlantic reported.
There are several circumstances in which a hyena might be used, but all are centered on the idea of ritualistic “sexual cleansing,” or “kusasa fumbi.”
For example, in many rural areas of the country, a recent widow is expected to have sex with a member of her husband’s family to exorcise the spirit of the deceased. If she doesn’t, then any future deaths in the village can be blamed on her.
If a family member would rather, though, he can pay a “hyena” to have sex with the widow in his stead, the New York Times reported.
And such hyenas are often employed to have sex with girls as young as 10.
The name hyena derives from the fact that they are “supposed to operate in stealth and at night,” according to the New York Times.
Eric Aniva has been neither stealthy nor secretive.