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Kimon
07-20-2016, 10:17 PM
This story is disturbing on a number of levels.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36843769

I meet Eric Aniva in the dusty yard of his three-room shack in Nsanje district in southern Malawi. Goats and chickens graze in the dirt outside. Wearing a grimy green shirt, and walking with a pronounced limp (he's been lame in one leg since birth, he says), he greets me enthusiastically. He seems to like the idea of media attention.
Aniva is by all accounts the pre-eminent "hyena" in this village. It's a traditional title given to a man hired by communities in several remote parts of southern Malawi to provide what's called sexual "cleansing". If a man dies, for example, his wife is required by tradition to sleep with Aniva before she can bury him. If a woman has an abortion, again sexual cleansing is required.
And most shockingly, here in Nsanje, teenage girls, after their first menstruation, are made to have sex over a three-day period, to mark their passage from childhood to womanhood. If the girls refuse, it's believed, disease or some fatal misfortune could befall their families or the village as a whole.
"Most of those I have slept with are girls, school-going girls," Aniva tells me.

Despite his boasts, several girls I meet in a nearby village express aversion to the ordeal they've had to go through.
"There was nothing else I could have done. I had to do it for the sake of my parents," one girl, Maria, tells me. "If I'd refused, my family members could be attacked with diseases - even death - so I was scared."
They tell me that all their female friends were made to have sex with a hyena.

And, of course...

I put it to them that there's a much greater risk that these "cleansings" will themselves spread disease. According to custom, sex with the hyena must never be protected with the use of condoms. But they say a hyena is hand-picked for his good morals, and therefore cannot be infected with HIV/Aids.
It's clear, given the hyena's duties, that HIV is a huge risk to the community. The UN estimates that one in 10 of all Malawians carry the virus, so I ask Aniva if he is HIV-positive. He astounds me by saying that he is - and that he doesn't mention this to a girl's parents when they hire him.

Brita
07-20-2016, 11:28 PM
Oh my god. Oh.my.god. How unspeakably awful.

GonzoTheGreat
07-21-2016, 03:11 AM
Don't we have to, like, you know, respect their faith or something?

I very often get told that pointing out the stupidity of superstition is not nice.
Of course, I'll grant that these are not your superstitions, so different standards may apply here.

Davian93
07-21-2016, 06:51 AM
Yeah, I saw this on my twitter feed when I woke up...WTF is wrong with this culture?

Daekyras
07-21-2016, 07:48 AM
Fuck.

GonzoTheGreat
07-21-2016, 07:52 AM
Fuck.Fair summary of the situation. Maybe a bit too terse to be understandable for someone who doesn't have more information than you give, though.

Isabel
07-21-2016, 12:27 PM
yeah it's quite horrible :((

Kimon
07-21-2016, 01:01 PM
yeah it's quite horrible :((

Setting aside the dismay, it's also odd from an anthropological perspective, as this isn't, as one might suspect, seemingly similar to the mostly mythical droit du seigneur. These "hyenas" aren't local chieftains, nor seemingly even the local shaman. And families are paying for this service, rather than paying for its avoidance, as seemingly was a bit of the euphemism behind the merchet.

Hopefully greater recognition of how this merely exacerbates the spread of disease will eventually end this tradition, but it is telling that, as often with female genitalia mutilation as well, it seems that it is the elder women that are especially fighting for the maintenance of the practice, likely out of a Stockholm Syndrome-esque consideration, rationalizing that the abuse that they suffered as children was necessary, and thus inflicting that same abuse onto the next generation.

Likewise, hopefully some charitable organization, like Medecins sans Frontieres, decides to step in and at least test all the local women, and then publicly do the same for all these local "hyenas", so that the locals are made aware of just how dangerous the process is, as simply lecturing them on how unseemly, misogynistic, and cruel the practice is hasn't been working in stopping it so far in these rural hinterlands.

Terez
07-23-2016, 12:56 PM
This is not too shocking to me, as I came across some of these sexual initiation rituals in my study of pre-civ homosexuality. Lots of coming-of-age sex rituals in tribal culture; in some cases, one cannot be considered a man until one has ingested semen. Etc. In other words, it's not always misogynistic. It's just backwards.

Kimon
07-26-2016, 04:37 PM
He was arrested.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-36892963

"While we must promote positive cultural values and positive socialisation of our children, the president says harmful cultural and traditional practices cannot be accepted in this country," presidential spokesman Mgeme Kalilani said in a statement
Mr Aniva would "further be investigated for exposing the young girls to contracting HIV and further be charged accordingly", he said.
The president had also ordered all men and parents involved to be investigated, Mr Kalilani said.
"All people involved in this malpractice should be held accountable for subjecting their children and women to this despicable evil," the statement said.
"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."

Rand al'Fain
07-26-2016, 07:55 PM
He was arrested.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-36892963

Well, that's a relief.

Kimon
07-26-2016, 10:15 PM
So this is completely unrelated, yet still quite fitting with the topic, and hilarious. It somehow also is a completely accurate re-creation, albeit with a Rick and Morty overlay, of what actually happened in the courtroom- in Georgia surprisingly, not Florida.

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/07/rick-and-morty-recreate-an-infamously-unhinged-cou.html

Davian93
07-27-2016, 06:57 AM
Rick and Morty...LOVE that show!!!

Ozymandias
07-28-2016, 02:39 PM
Well, that's a relief.

I mean, I guess its a relief, but... is it? The guy was certainly not a victim, but he's certainly just as much a slave to their superstitions as the girls and villagers all.

I don't want to defend a horrific practice, but it seemed like he wasn't acting maliciously and that there was a buy-in (however fucked up) from all involved. I mean, to the extent a pubescent child can give consent, I suppose.

The relief will be when we hear about sexual education happening en masse in these communities so that that superstitions that give rise to institutions like it go away. Otherwise, they'll just appoint a new Aniva and do it on the down low, and the cycle will start again, and an superstitious dupe will have been jailed for being little more than a patsy.

Rand al'Fain
07-28-2016, 03:33 PM
I mean, I guess its a relief, but... is it? The guy was certainly not a victim, but he's certainly just as much a slave to their superstitions as the girls and villagers all.

I don't want to defend a horrific practice, but it seemed like he wasn't acting maliciously and that there was a buy-in (however fucked up) from all involved. I mean, to the extent a pubescent child can give consent, I suppose.

The relief will be when we hear about sexual education happening en masse in these communities so that that superstitions that give rise to institutions like it go away. Otherwise, they'll just appoint a new Aniva and do it on the down low, and the cycle will start again, and an superstitious dupe will have been jailed for being little more than a patsy.

He certainly never tried to stop it, or inform any of the families that he is HIV positive.

Him being arrested means he won't infect anyone else.

Kimon
07-28-2016, 04:18 PM
I mean, I guess its a relief, but... is it? The guy was certainly not a victim, but he's certainly just as much a slave to their superstitions as the girls and villagers all.

I don't want to defend a horrific practice, but it seemed like he wasn't acting maliciously and that there was a buy-in (however fucked up) from all involved. I mean, to the extent a pubescent child can give consent, I suppose.

The relief will be when we hear about sexual education happening en masse in these communities so that that superstitions that give rise to institutions like it go away. Otherwise, they'll just appoint a new Aniva and do it on the down low, and the cycle will start again, and an superstitious dupe will have been jailed for being little more than a patsy.

In addition to the child abuse, to which both he and their parents would be complicit in the guilt, the fact that he had failed to disclose that he was HIV positive also opens him up to prosecution. And treating this as a crime, and threatening to prosecute both the "hyena", the parents, and the village elders, is how you force the end of these types of practices.