picture picture
July 20, 2015 Day to Day 0 Comments

Last Minute Request

This weekend I’ll be traveling to Ottawa to meet my friend Dennis who is the Secretary General of the Teacher’s Union of Malawi. He is here for a conference. In typical African fashion he didn’t inform me of his plans until today. This means that I’m scrambling to gather items to send back with him. If anyone has clothes or school supplies to donate I would greatly appreciate it. Anything is welcome at this pint!

May 23, 2015 Day to Day 0 Comments

Sex, Law and HIV

An article appeared on a South African news site this morning. As I read it I was both horrified and impressed. Malawi is a country whose politics and beliefs never cease to surprise me.

Prostitution itself is not illegal in Malawi. Their Penal Code prohibits a woman from living off the earnings from prostitution. This provision is the loop hole that allows police to arrest women seen to be working in the sex trade. Recently in the southern part of Malawi 11 sex workers were arrested and charged. WHile in police custody these women were taken to the government hospital and forced to undergo HIV testing. They did not consent to these tests. The results of these tests were disclosed in open court.

Although HIV is prevalent in Malawi there is still a stigma attached to it. In the villages people are ostracized and left to suffer alone for fear that the virus is a curse that might spread to innocent victims. Things are better in the cities where people tend to be more educated and open-minded about the virus.

The sex trade is fairly open and accepted in Malawi. I have been at my fair share of “bottle stores” (bars) in Malawi where prostitutes were easily interacting with all patrons. There didn’t seem to be any stigma or judgment about their chosen professions. Prostitutes are seen at all hours of the day, generally in the bottle stores. Their children will sometimes be nearby, playing with old bottles or other “toys.” I have never heard a negative comment about a sex worker. Malawians seem to understand and accept that survival is paramount and anyone who can run a business and earn a living is doing their best.

This story is interesting to me on another level too. Both the judge and the lawyers in the case were female. In Malawi as I’ve often written before, women have a hard life. They are primary care givers for their families. They cook, clean, shop, do laundry and work in the fields. This is true of all women I have met, with the exception of a few of the wealthier ones who do not have fields to work in. Often in Malawi the family roles are similar to those in North America in the time of Leave it to Beaver. Men are in charge in the home. Men are expected to be the bread winners. I’m pleased whenever I read of a woman who has abandoned those traditional roles. It’s not uncommon for a woman to hold a position of power or authority. For a while Malawi had a female president. I guess it’s just hard for me to wrap my head around the traditional homes I’ve seen and the idea of females in power positions.

The constant dichotomy of life and roles in Malawi is just one reason why I seem to never be able to get enough of this place.

The article I referenced can be found here

April 27, 2015 Day to Day 0 Comments


This is a test