Natasha Annie Tonthola is a Malawian and the founder of Mama Africa Foundation Trust which she uses to fight injustice meted out to girls in rural Malawi. Fight against issues of male ‘hyenas’ (men paid to have sex with young girls from their village, as part of a sexual initiation ritual) and girls dropping out of school are very dear to her. Hear her:
“On the last day one of the female elders told us that we had reached the final part of the process. She said a hyena was coming to visit us. “Don’t worry, I’m not talking about an animal,” she said. “I’m talking about a man.” But we didn’t actually know what a hyena is, or what he was going to do. They don’t tell you he’s going to have sex with you. We each had a piece of cloth and we were told to put it on the floor. We were told that it was time to show that we knew how to treat a man, that we knew what to do for our future husbands. Then we were blindfolded. You’re not supposed to show you’re scared, you’re not supposed to show you don’t know what’s happening to you. The man comes, and he tells you to lie down, you open your legs and he does what he does. We weren’t allowed to know who the man was – only the elders know. We were young girls, so we were tense, and this man would push our legs open. I found it painful. When he finished, I was relieved. The female elder came in and said, “Congratulations, you have finished the initiation ceremony, and you are a woman now.” Read the full story here.