Young sex initiations-Malawi Campaigners Seek to End Sex in Girls' Initiation Ceremony

Relatively little is known about the day-to-day initiation of sexual activity between young adults in committed relationships, notably the ways in which young people communicate interest in sexual activity. Sexual script theory Simon and Gagnon, Society , posits that men are traditionally the initiators and women the restrictors of sexual activity early in relationships. However, research suggests that these patterns may be different for individuals in committed relationships. Responses to initiations tended to match the initiators' choice of strategies, suggesting that synchrony plays an important role in initiation patterns. The findings have implications for understanding sexual communication as well as relationship and sexual satisfaction among young adults.

Young sex initiations

Young sex initiations

Young sex initiations

Support Center Support Center. You can check out our Privacy Policy to see how we safeguard and use the information you provide us with. Larger-scale studies should also consider these findings to better understand how the lack of relevant sexual education may impact YMSM and Young sex initiations. Retrieved A tenth of Malawi's population is HIV-positive. Data for this manuscript were drawn from responses that emerged from these sub-studies. Kurdi dengeamerika. There remains a Esher contraceptives of research on the relevant sexual health information available to young men who have sex with men YMSM. Not a Global Citizen iniitiations Young sex initiations Education.

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Mwase was just 10 when she was led, along with about a dozen other girls, to remote huts outside her village during winter vacation from school in August. 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. The anamkungwi told the girls to lie on top of one another and get a feel for the various positions described to them. This will mark them for life, and they will be ostracized if they don't complete the custom as their mothers and grandmothers did before them.

These guardians often force their daughters to go through with the ritual for fear of breaking with tradition. Initiation is a centuries-old practice in the region, according to Harriet Chanza of the World Health Organization.

You are either a child or an adult. The emphasis on having sex may also have a darker purpose in a country where nearly three-fourths of the population lives below the poverty line. Chanza, who is based in Malawi, says that some parents may actually want their daughters to get pregnant at a young age. A girl is often married soon after she is found to be pregnant, deferring the cost of caring for her and her baby from her parents to her husband. Mwase was told, "'You are a woman enough'" by an anamkungwi in her village, and informed, "'If you come out [of the initiation camp], you should sleep with a man to cleanse you of your childhood thing.

You should do it plain. Mwase sits in an uneven plastic lawn chair in an empty hall used for community gatherings as she recounts her experiences. Conversing with us, in other words, isn't as difficult as telling women in her village how she feels about a custom they might support.

Her small, sharp eyes aglow in the dimly lit room, a grain mill whirring in the background , Mwase says the anamkungwi who oversaw her initiation told her to find an older man to have sex with after she left the camp. In defiance of tradition, however, Mwase refused to do so, fearing the costs to her health from unprotected sex. Like many first-born daughters in Malawi, Mwase was raised by her grandmother. She says her grandmother, who had sent her to the camp, didn't force her to have sex—likely because Mwase never told her about her decision not to do so.

Through this she acquires the respect of her spouse and of the neighbourhood as a moral community. This is what a girl learns during her initiation into womanhood, and that she is told during her wedding ceremony. Despite the social role of initiations, there are numerous public health concerns surrounding the custom in Malawi. Young girls largely unaware of the risks are being told to have unprotected sex in a country where a tenth of the population is HIV-positive.

While this figure is on par with other countries in the region , it is far higher than rates elsewhere in the world; 70 percent of AIDS-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The young age at which girls become pregnant complicates their deliveries and puts them at greater risk for losing their babies, losing their lives, or developing an obstetric fistula—a condition where a rupture in the birth canal leaves women suffering from incontinence and ostracized from their communities.

Female genital mutilation, which often entails the complete or partial removal of the clitoris, is not common in Malawi, though it can take place during similar rites of passage in other parts of Africa. But initiation can leave lasting trauma even without physical injury. For boys in Malawi, and in several other African countries, initiation sometimes involves circumcision. Initiations for boys can easily go awry, since the circumcisions are often performed by people without medical training wielding ritual knifes.

I have put [in] bylaws [to prohibit initiations]. We speak over dinner beside the glittering but parasite-ridden Lake Malawi. In the district of Mangochi, which borders the lake, 48 percent of teenagers have begun bearing children—the highest incidence in Malawi. Mwandira says it is hard to persuade local leaders here and elsewhere in the country to stop a custom that has such a long history, especially since annual initiations for boys and girls have become a kind of industry.

Even "the chief gets something for allowing that initiation ceremony to take place. In the face of public scrutiny, those who have a vested interest in keeping the custom alive try to do so covertly. Initiation camps are held outside villages in temporary shelters built just for this purpose and then burnt to the ground once children are sent home, Mwandira says. I spent a day in Mangochi, asking every young woman I could whether she had been initiated.

In Chiradzulu, a few hours south by car, Grace Mwase was the rare exception willing to speak about her experiences with initiation.

The group is led by a woman named Joyce Mkandawire. She says that when she first arrived in Chiradzulu, where Mwase lives, she was struck by the lack of freedom afforded to girls. Mkandawire is now advocating for new bylaws in local villages to bar teenage girls from getting married. She has also reached out to local headmasters, who notify her when a girl has dropped out of school so that she and the Girls Empowerment Network can try to convince her to return—and to focus on education rather than marriage.

In speaking out about these issues, Mkandawire has inspired girls like Mwase to do the same. If there is anything [wrong], I go to the elders and speak to them. Reporting for this story was made possible through a United Nations Foundation press fellowship. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. Grace Mwase, 14, may look like a child, but her community sees her as an adult because of a sexual initiation she attended at age Beenish Ahmed.

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Malawi Campaigners Seek to End Sex in Girls' Initiation Ceremony | Voice of America - English

Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. Story highlights Girls are sent to a camp where they learn about having sex Advocates say the practice is abusive and fueling child marriages, early pregnancies Girls are pressured to go to camps by villagers and peers Advocates say change to cultural practice is slow.

When Grace learned she'd be going to a camp with her friends, she was thrilled. Every girl around her age in her southern Malawi village would attend the rite of passage, known as an initiation camp. They counted down to what seemed like summer camp. A demonstration involved one girl lying down, with one of the older women on top.

Like the other girls in the village, Grace had been sent to camp with her family's blessings. Neither trafficked nor forced to work in the sex trade, she was attending a time-honored ritual passed through generations. Malawian lawyer fights for girls White: 'Widow cleansing' must change Fighting child marriage in Malawi Boys and girls attend separate camps, serving as a forum where adults pass on their community-held attitudes and beliefs about sexuality and adulthood.

Not all initiation ceremonies in Malawi encourage girls to have sex, as programs and local cultures vary throughout the diverse country, which is home to several ethnic groups and languages. Pockets exist throughout the country, especially in the south, that teach sexually explicit content to their youth.

Initiations that encourage premarital sex are practiced among various ethnic groups, including the Yao and Lomwe, which are based in the south, according to Malawi Human Rights Commission, which is charged with investigating rights violations. The commission also reported that girls as young as six have been sent to initiation camps, where they're taught how to have sex. It condemned the sexual curriculum for young girls, saying it impinges "on a number of rights of the girl child such as the right to education, the right to health, and the right to personal liberty and dignity.

Human rights groups and researchers have also found instances when a man, nicknamed a hyena or fisi, has sexual intercourse with newly initiated girls as part of the rite of passage. Men enter the girls' room, one woman told a focus group which was held for teens and adults by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers to examine perspectives on initiation rites. Joyce Mkandawire, an advocate with Girls Empowerment Network Malawi, fights the practice of "sexual cleansing.

This is one of the factors fueling child marriage in Malawi. Why teach girls this when they're nine or 10 years old? Malawi ranks 10th for the highest rate of child marriages in the world, with half of its children married before the age of 18, according to the World Health Organization. Grace, a diminutive girl in pink jelly sandals, is one of the few girls willing to talk about her experience at initiation camp.

Now 15, she spoke with a group of journalists visiting Malawi with the United Nations Foundation. Her initiation camp took place not far from her home.

They stayed there for a week, Grace said. The women leading the camp taught her about respecting her elders and doing household chores, but also how to have sex. The women demonstrated sexual positions. Then, they encouraged girls to do "sexual cleansing," also called kusasa fumbi , which meant they should get rid of their inexperience with sex by practicing. They told her if she didn't, she'd get a skin disease.

There was no discussion about the risks of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases or how to protect herself, Grace said. When her friends urged her to practice, Grace stayed home. She didn't want to participate.

Girls often say in private that they hated the sexually explicit lessons, said Harriet Chanza, a national professional officer for family health and population at the World Health Organization. If anyone refuses, they would definitely be looked at as an outcast. There is a lot of peer pressure. Despite the peer pressure, Grace resisted and did not go through the so-called "sexual cleansing. Grace has little interest in practicing what she learned at initiation, or marriage, for now.

Echoing many girls' advocates, initiation camps aren't inherently problematic, said Henry Chimbali, spokesman for Malawi's Ministry of Health. He said the ministry has issued a cultural practices manual to eliminate "harmful cultural practices," collaborated with local leaders as well as established outreach programs to keep children in school as well as have access to health services.

In recent years, there have been improvements in indicators of early pregnancies, hospital delivery, reduced incidences of sexually transmitted infections, Chimbali said. In Malawi, traditional authorities and chiefs hold power in local government and are the perceived custodians of local culture. Girls rights advocates have tried to persuade such local tribal leaders to change the way initiation camps incorporates sexual content.

In Chiradzulu, the district where Grace resides, girls advocates convinced officials to review and remove the sexual content of initiation camps.

Grace now goes to initiation camps to talk to other girls about the risks involved in early sexual activity. It's progress, Mkandawire says.

Young sex initiations