BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — Malawi police on Tuesday arrested a man who said he was hired by families to have sex with more than 100 young women, including children, in what was described as ritual cleansing.
President Peter Mutharika ordered the arrest of Eric Aniva, who told local and international media he had been paid to have sex with young girls. Aniva also told the media he was HIV-positive.
Aniva was charged with multiple cases of defilement, Malawi Police Inspector General Lexten Kachama told The Associated Press.
"Out of the many women he had sex with, most of them were under-aged children," Kachama said.
In interviews, Aniva claimed to be a paid sex worker, known as a "hyena," hired by families and village elders in southern Malawi to have sex with young girls once they reach puberty as a form of ritual cleansing.
In a statement, Malawi's president said it is unacceptable to commit such violations under the guise of culture.
Mutharika said that since the accused said he does not use protection in "his evil acts," he should be investigated for exposing young girls to HIV and "further be charged accordingly."
The president also ordered police to investigate all men and parents involved in what he called "this shocking malpractice."
A Malawi human rights lawyer, Chrispine Sibande, commended the president for the gesture but said arresting Aniva is not enough.
"The practice is very rampant in some of parts of the country," Sibande said, urging a broader effort to end it.