Malawian boy dies after circumcision at initiation camp

Lilongwe - Malawi has been caught up in another cultural malpractice scandal after a 13-year-old boy died last week, after being circumcised at an initiation camp in Kasungu, Nyasa Times reports.

Police in Kasungu confirmed that they were searching for a Yao initiation camp councilor after Julius Sayineti died from severe bleeding, after undergoing the culturally accepted passage into manhood.

This comes as Malawian President Peter Mutharika condemned certain cultural traditions after he ordered the arrest of Eric Aniva, an HIV-positive man who has the "job" of having sex with virgin girls following their first period, News24 reported.

Aniva, who is in his mid-forties is a man who, in Malawian culture, is known as a "hyena", which is a man who is paid to have sex with young girls as a form of ritual cleansing.

"Sexual cleansing" is a common practice in the southern parts of Malawi, with women required to undergo the ritual at various stages in their life, such as when their husband dies.

Mutharika strongly condemned the sexual practices after the story made international headlines, calling them very disturbing and unacceptable.

"I am reliably informed that these violations are done under the guise of culture which I find to be very extremely unacceptable," said Mutharika.

Mutharika has since ordered the criminalisation of harmful cultural practices and announced the introduction of tougher legislation against sex offenders, in a crackdown on sex crimes in the country.

Police officials confirmed that Sayineti died on a river bank, with Yao elders and parents secretly burying him without transporting his body to a hospital.

"Medical personnel from Kasungu District Hospital, accompanied by a team of police officers, went to the village, exhumed the body and conducted a postmortem which showed the boy died of severe bleeding due to the circumcision which went wrong," police spokesperson Edna Mzingwitsa said.

The Malawian government, years ago, declared that all initiation circumcision ceremonies had to take place at a hospital to prevent injuries and the spread of HIV and Aids, as many traditional practitioners use only one blade to perform all circumcisions.

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