HIV positive man has sex with children in Malawi, gets arrested.
Here’s something terrible you might not have known about: sex initiation camps for young African girls. In Malawi, ten-to-twelve-year old girls are sent to sex initiation camps in order to lose their virginities and learn how to have sex. In fact, they are told they need to lose their “child dust”, else face the risk of disease as they get older.
What’s terrible about this practice is that it’s nothing new. In fact, it’s been occurring for centuries. Generations of young Malawi girls have been attending sex initiation camps, sent by their parents in order to ensure that the girls receive the desired experience and understanding of sex so they can be accepted as adults by their communities.
If you think that’s bad, wait until you read the latest headline: HIV-positive Malawian man arrested for sex with children. RNZ recently published the article that read “An HIV-positive Malawian man, who says he is paid to have sex with children as part of initiation rites, has been arrested on the president’s orders.”
This man was a “hyena”, a male paid to have sex with young women once they reached puberty and teach them how to perform the sex act. Not only does this give them experience, but it is believed to be ritually “cleansing” for the young women.
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A late-July BBC article interviewed the sex worker and shed light on the terrible practice of being a “hyena”. But another article, published just one week later, brought to light the horrible fact that the man practicing sexual acts with these young women was HIV positive. What’s worse: he didn’t inform his clients that he was HIV positive.
The Malawi President has told the police to investigate, insisting that the “hyena” be charged for the defilement of all the young women he has been with. Thankfully, the president also called for all the men and parents involved in the practice to be investigated as well. Hopefully, this will be the first step toward curtailing the terrible tradition.
This follows on the heels of a ban on child marriage, which was instituted in Malawi in 2015. The legal age of marriage was raised from 15 to 18. This was intended to curtail such sexual “initiations” and protect young women from what is clearly a barbaric practice.
But, like all things, change takes time. Though the law was passed over a year ago, there is still a great deal of changing–not just of actions, but of mindsets as well. The people of Malawi (and other countries with similar practices) must learn what it means to protect their children from not just physical harm, but also sexual and emotional damage.
If the “hyena” is convicted of defilement, it could be a good first step toward eliminating these terrible practices once and for all. Hopefully, Malawi won’t be the only country to take notice of the change, but the world at large will be more protective over the innocence of youth.