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

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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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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