In many parts of Malawi girls have a very low social status. In the more traditional communities, such as amongst the Yao people, young girls and boys go through initiation rites as they move into adulthood. In some cases girls are forced to have sex with older men as part of this, and often girls as young as 11 are married off to escape poverty. As a result they are especially vulnerable to early pregnancy and HIV. Relative Values meets 16 year-old Ajamia who had a child by her stepfather. She lived with him to escape poverty, doing the job of a servant. Ajamia’s stepfather, who is four times her age, sees nothing wrong with their relationship. Against the background of initiation rites that are taking place at the time of filming, Relative Values explores the struggle between cultural traditions and female health and wellbeing.
Part of a 28 x 25-minute documentary series produced for the BBC. These films can be bought individually or as a series.