Chiradzulu district, Malawi (CNN) — 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.
“We were happy, because we didn’t know what was there,” she said.
When she got there, the messages she heard stunned her.
“You should sleep with a man and get rid of child ‘dust.’ If you don’t do it, your body will get diseased.”
A demonstration involved one girl lying down, with one of the older women on top.
“You should be dancing and have a man on top of you, making him happy,” she was told.
At age 10, Grace was being taught how to have sex.
“Fueling child marriage”
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.
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