HIV-positive Hyena-Man From Malawi Got Lenient Sentence, Women's Rights Activists Say

Women's rights activists are calling on the High Courts to review the lower- court decision on Malawi's "hyena man", who had unprotected sex with girls as part of a traditional custom.  Eric Aniva from Malawi is paid by widows to "sexually cleanse" them after the deaths of their husbands and by families to have sex with underage girls to mark their passage to adulthood.  He is HIV-positive.

Aniva Had Sex With At Least 100 Girls Without Telling Them He Has HIV

The 45-year-old "hyena man" was arrested earlier this year after he admitted that he had unprotected sex with girls and women without telling them of his HIV-positive status.  He was tried under Malawi's Gender Equality Act of 2013.  Emma Kaliya, executive director of Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC) said: "We are shocked and appalled that a man, living with HIV, has for over two decades sexually violated children as young as 12 years of age in an outdated, retrogressive culture that is harmful for women and girls."

The Sentence Given To Aniva Is Too Lenient, Activists Say

Although two women testified against him, he was not found guilty of having sex with underage girls, because none of them came forward.  As a result, the lower court sentenced him to two years in prison for engaging in "harmful cultural practices" which carries a maximum of five years in prison for violations of the law. 

"What message does this send to all perpetrators of sexual violence hiding behind discriminatory and destructive cultural practices - that you can get away with only two years? This is a disgrace and a big let-down to the women and girls of Malawi. The courts of justice must revoke and reconsider this sentence. We are enraged," Kaliya said.

Michael Goba Chipeta, Aniva's lawyer, said he would appeal both the conviction and sentence.

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