In some remote southern regions of Malawi, it's traditional for girls to be made to have sex with a paid sex worker known as a "hyena" once they reach puberty. The act is not seen by village elders as rape, but as a form of ritual "cleansing". However, as Ed Butler reports, it has the potential to be the opposite of cleansing - a way of spreading disease.
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.
"Some girls are just 12 or 13 years old, but I prefer them older. All these girls find pleasure in having me as their hyena. They actually are proud and tell other people that this man is a real man, he knows how to please a woman."
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.
A very interesting article throughout. To be clear, later on it is pointed out that this is a dying practice that is condemned by the government and church in Malawi. I see this mainly as an example of how shockingly different cultures can be and how resistant to change they are. While I am sure that the thread will have a lot of flatly racist comments about how primitive and benighted these people are, I think it is important to be humble and not miss the log in our own eye while pointing out the speck in someone else's. Our own cultures have their own stubborn flaws, and the wise thing to draw from articles like these is the importance of self-reflection.
Wow... A literal thread about cultural child rape, but quick... Someone might judge them! Let's premptively call anyone so inclined a racist. Your a piece of work aren't you.
To be clear, I think that what they are doing is horrible. However, I believe in hating the sin but loving the sinner and "judge not lest ye be judged". If you read the article, the parents do this out of the honest, heartfelt belief that it is the best thing for their daughters. I think they are wrong, but as a parent myself I can relate to the intention even if I am horrified by where it has taken them. I certainly do not see them as monsters or bad people, even if they are doing very bad things. I just hope that I am not harming my own children when I do what I do for them out of my own honest, heartfelt desire to give them the best.
And as for preempting racism in this thread, let's be honest here. If you've been on SB for even a little while, you know where threads on hot button issues like this lead. Pedophilia + Africa + Cultural differences = Torrents of shitposts on SB. Not everyone who is horrified by this is a racist, but threads like these DO bring out the racists and ITGs.
David Khoo, Spacebattles 15 Comments
[7/16/2017 11:16:18 AM]
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