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In Malawi, The Horrors Of A Sexual Initiation Camp For Young Girls

MULANJE With her sweet smile and schoolgirl backpack, Awa Kandaya, 20, seems to be the picture of innocence. But it's just a facade. Her virginity was taken away from her at the age of nine when she was sent to a "sexual initiation" camp in Southern Malawi. Following a local tradition, a "hyena" — a man paid by her parents to "teach her about life" — raped her.

Sitting on the steps of a building in Nampugo, a village in the district of Mulanje, Awa explains the sexual initiation tradition, which continues to be practiced and tolerated in Malawi despite efforts by politicians to do away with it. She says that here, like in many rural areas, girls have to attend the camp as soon as they have their first menstruation. They leave the camps no longer a virgin, and deeply changed.

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State Of Denial: Malawi's Tobacco Farming Addiction

Not many people in the southeast African nation smoke tobacco. They can't afford it. But the country is hooked on growing it and turns a blind eye to the associated risks, especially for child laborers.

MALAWI — The home of James Mwale smells like a freshly opened pack of cigarettes. It's not much bigger than one either: It has about 5 square meters of floor space, half of which is covered with brown, pungent tobacco.

James* is shoeless. His feet are calloused and he wears a dirty shirt that hangs over his trousers. He keeps looking through the open door, afraid that his neighbors will see us.

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