“Sexual Cleansing” in Malawi
Initiation camps are quite common in areas of Africa like Malawi. These initiation camps (also called “rite of passage”) vary from culture to culture and are passed down through the generations. The rituals performed in each of these cultures vary depending on the cultural norms and shared values of the communities people live in. These camps are significant because they are used as a way of “fitting in” with the members of their community.
In Malawi, these initiation camps are a form of “sexual cleansing.” Girls and boys are separated into different camps according to sex and are shown sexually explicit acts in order to “prepare” them for adulthood. Initiation camps in Malawi encourage premarital sex in order to aid the girl “grow up.” Leaders of initiation camps fail to recognize the risk of pregnancy or the use of protection during this process.
I find this important to raise awareness for this very important issue due to the exploitation of women along with the spread of disease. There must be another way to “fit in” with this Malawi community other than sexually exploiting girls as young as six years old. More than 10% of the people that live in Malawi suffer from HIV which they believe has been due to the unprotected sexual relations going on in these camps.