The girls were accompanied by older women from their village in Chiradzulu district, near the border with Mozambique. She had been excited for this time with friends away from home, but that feeling quickly gave way to dread as she learned the true purpose of initiation. The man should be on top of you and you should be dancing for him, making him happy. In speaking out about these issues, Mkandawire has inspired girls like Mwase to do the same. You should do it plain.
We speak over dinner beside the glittering but parasite-ridden Lake Malawi.
Confronting a Sexual Rite of Passage in Malawi
Mkandawire is now advocating for new bylaws in local villages to bar teenage girls from getting married. Mwase sits in an uneven plastic lawn chair in an empty hall used for community gatherings as she recounts her experiences. Despite the social role of initiations, there are numerous public health concerns surrounding the custom in Malawi. But initiation can leave lasting trauma even without physical injury. Follow her on Twitter.