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Malawi

HIV-infected man sentenced to two years over ritual sex in Malawi

A man infected with the HIV virus, who was accused of sleeping with 100 girls and women in a series of so-called 'ritual cleansing' acts, was sentenced to two years in prison for his actions.

An HIV-positive Malawian man who said he had sex with at least 100 girls and women as part of a locally practiced traditional ritual, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in jail for "harmful practices."

Eric Aniva was prosecuted after publicly speaking about his role as a "hyena" in a BBC radio documentary earlier this year.

"I convict you to serve 24 months' imprisonment," Judge Innocent Nebi told Aniva in a packed courtroom in the remote southern district of Nsanje.

The 45-year-old HIV-infected man faced charges which included grievous bodily harm and was repeatedly denied bail. 

He is said to have slept with at least 104 women and girls, some as young as 12, in a ritual that lasted three days. He said each family paid him a fee of between $4 (3.80 euros) and $7.

The little-known local practice of having sex with adolescent girls to mark their passage to womanhood is performed in southern Malawi by men known as "hyenas" at the behest of a girl's parents after her first menstruation.

The ritual is believed to train girls to become good wives and protect them from disease, or misfortune could fall on their families or their village.

Malawi, which has one of the highest HIV infections in the world, criminalizes sex with a person under the age of 16.

Aniva, who pleaded not guilty, told AFP immediately after the sentence: "I am disappointed because I thought I would be given a suspended sentence."