Pilirani Semu-Banda – Malawi

Linked with The Gender and Media Project, with Daughters for loan under fire, … , and also linked with Malawi PeaceWomen already on our blog: with Irene Chaluluka, with Helen Munthali, and with Madam Felister Chinthunzi.

Pilirani Semu-Banda is a journalist contracted by the USAID as Media Specialist for Casals and Associates in Malawi. As a freelancer, Pilirani has won both local and international awards, including the Africa Education Journalism Award. She has also been voted Malawi’s best female journalist twice. (altvoices).

Visit her blog.

A short video-statement about Pilirani Semu-Banda, by USAID to Africa, 0.39 min, 20 Nov 2007.

Malawi: ‘Foreign Traders Are Taking Our Jobs‘, by Pilirani Semu-Banda, December 20, 2007.

pilirani-semu-banda-malawi.jpg.

Pilirani Semu-Banda – Malawi

Modern Day Slavery in Malawi Persists in the Name of Culture.

As one of the major tobacco exporters in the world, Malawi derives up to 70 percent of its foreign exchange earnings from tobacco, accounting for five percent of the world’s total exports and two percent of the world’s total production. Tea is the second major foreign exchange earner after tobacco, contributing a nine percent share to the country’s total exports. This little country in southern Africa, 20th in population out of the 54 countries and island kingdoms that make up Africa, ranks only after Kenya, which has almost three times the population, as the second largest producer and exporter of tea in Africa; it is 12th on the world list … (full text).

The Cost of the US Elections on Africa.

She writes: In Nkombanyama, a village in Malawi’s northern district of Chitipa, a 14-year-old girl was saved by a traditional chief as she was about to be married off to a successful farmer. Sadly, her father was using her as currency to settle a debt with the farmer.

The girl’s father, identified only as Hannock, reportedly made a habit of borrowing money from the farmer, using his daughter as collateral. He eventually ordered her to sleep with the farmer after he failed to settle the loan.

The issue only came to light in March of this year after the girl fell pregnant having “settled” her father’s debts for some time.

The culture of using female children to settle outstanding debts has existed in this part of Malawi since time immemorial among the people in Chitipa and other surrounding districts … (full text).

CULTURE: Malawians Pursue the “Bootylicious”.

She writes also: … The youth literacy rate of females aged between 15 and 24 years has also improved from 75 percent in 1990 to the present 82 percent.

But, as Mwale’s case shows, violence against women threatens these achievements. This is true for all spheres of life. Subsistence farmer Dora Malimelo sees no reason of holding hopes that the situation will improve much for the average woman.

‘‘Violence against women is a growing tendency in this country because there is a total lack of respect for women in our community. In the past five years we have started to see ritual killings where women’s private parts are removed.’’

According to Malimelo, ‘‘domestic violence has escalated to such an extent that women are mutilated by their own husbands’’. Malawi has in recent times reported numerous cases where women are kidnapped, murdered or trafficked for prostitution and hard labour. (full text, END/2007).

Alerts from the continent.

Malawi hit the world’s headlines last October when David Banda was adopted by Madonna. Prior to this, few people outside of Africa knew much about Malawi, apart perhaps from the fact that it has the fifth largest lake in the world.

But like the turmoil in the Madonna case, which saw human rights activists fighting against David’s adoption, Lake Malawi is in turmoil with its fish stocks diminishing and the fishing industry suffering low catches.

Lake Malawi contains the most diverse lake fish fauna in the world with an estimated 1,000 species. But Maldeco Fisheries Limited, the only industrial fishing company operating in the country, is currently producing just over 30 percent of the fish it produced 10 years ago … (full text).

Obstetric Fistula: A Medical Nightmare for Malawian Women.

Citizen media versus traditional journalism.

About Pilirani Semu-Banda: I have been a journalist since 1995 and have experience in both print and electronic media. My last job before coming for this MA was as a Senior Reporter for Nation Pubications Limited, publishers of The Nation which is Malawi’s leading daily paper and The Weekend Nation, a weekly newspaper and also the country’s leading weekly paper. I also write for online publications called Africawoman and IPS. In 2001 I was voted to the third place of the Best Journalist in Malawi, in 2002 I went on to be voted Malawi’s Best Female Journalist by the country’s journalism school. During 2003 Press Freedom Day celebrations on May 3, I was awarded the Best Journalist Award in the country. And on June 5, 2003 the Association for Development of Education in Africa which is under UNESCO awarded me the second prize in the Africa Education Journalism Award. Contact.

Her writings on Google Blog-search.

Three months ago, 15-year-old Mtisunge Chiwaya (real name) trekked to Blantyre with friends who assured her she would get a job as a waitress in a restaurant. Today, she is among hundreds of girl children, many as young as 10, who are being used as prostitutes in brothels that have mushroomed in Blantyre’s Ndirande and Bangwe townships and at Biwi in Lilongwe, among other places in the country.

Government, through the Ministry of Women, Child Welfare and Community Services has confirmed the practice, saying Mzimba, Kasungu, Mchinji are also involved in this practice and that Dedza is also becoming notorious for trafficking children to brothels into neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia.

Mtisunge Thursday said she especially feels sorry for the ‘very small children’ who contract HIV/Aids after sleeping with the many customers who patronise the brothels. She said for Blantyre, the children are picked from their parental homes in Zomba, Thyolo, Nsanje and Chiradzulu after brothel owners pay some money to parents of the children. ‘They give the parents K1,000 and tell them that the children will be employed in restaurants’, said Mtisunge. She said older girls are ordered to teach the children ‘ways of pleasing men’ … (full text).

Crocodiles Make Fetching Water a Life Threatening Experience.

Lack of Running Water Puts Girls’ Education at Risk.

Links:

MALAWI: Torn between the lure and danger of uranium;

Malawi: Fairer cyberwaves, female journalist bloggers.

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