some of the districts, especially those dominated by the
[…] are intended to train boys and girls in acceptable behaviour but are also
loaded with lessons on theory and practice of sex, the latter before
marriage. […] Traditional initiation is the counseling of boys and girls by
elders on acceptable code of behaviour.
This marks the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence or,
in some cases, adulthood. The practice
is common in most parts of
“In some of the
districts, especially those dominated by the
In a clinical study of adolescent post-abortion patients, the mean age at sexual debut was 15.7 years (SD +/- 1.75), about a year after that at menarche (14.3 years, (SD +/- 1.4)).
silence, secrecy and denial that surrounds sex and education about it (NAC,,
12 1.2.3.p). The Malawian culture is heavily infused with religious beliefs,
namely those of Christianity and Judaism (CIA, 2004). In these religious
contexts, sex is often associated with sin, and it this association that
seems to have permeated the Malawian culture (NAC,, 49). It is considered
extremely inappropriate for young women to be educated about practices which,
in theory, they should not be putting to use until marriage (NAC,, 20, c).
Among the Malawian youth however, abstinence, though it is still heavily
supported in public, is obviously not practiced. Ideas of masculinity,
perhaps introduced by the Western media, put pressure on men (and therefore
women) to engage in sexual activities at a young age (NAC,, 20 section e, sub
section v). In 2003, the average age of first sexual experience in
practice which we will examine is fisi,
also known as hyena, (the Chichewa
translation of ‘fisi’). Fisi is a puberty or pre-marital practice that is
practiced in some parts of
“The Malawian community reinforces gender roles from an early age. In towns and cities girl children are bought dolls and encouraged to know how to carry them on their backs, among other things. Boys, on the other hand are given toys such as cars and trains, which indicate power and wealth. Any feminine tendencies by the male child are admonished with comments such as “osamalankhula ngati mkazi” (do not speak like a woman/female) or “osamangolira zili zonse ngati munthu wamayi” (do not cry so easily as if you are a woman). Such stereotypical socialisation processes are an integral part of a societal package to mould children to fit into categories, which a hierarchical male dominant society wishes to lord over and perpetuate”.
D. F., Growing Up Sexually.
Last revised: May 2005
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