Findings have reveal that girls as young as 10 years old in Malawi are being sent to sex camps to be initiated.
The girls are taken to the camps where they are taught to have sex and expected to lose their virginity.
The ‘girls’ are usually tricked by their families into attending these camps.
The horrifying practice is not new – it is a time-honoured ritual passed through generations and the girls are sent by their families to make sure they are accepted into their communities as adults.
When she was aged 10 Grace was sent to an initiation camp which took place not far from her home in Golden Village, where Grace lives with her grandmother.
During her week-long stay she said she was taught about respecting her elders and doing household chores, but also how to have sex by the women that led the camp who are known as Anamkungwi, or ‘key leaders’.
She told a group of journalists visiting Malawi with the United Nations Foundation that the women demonstrated sexual positions and encouraged girls to do ‘sexual cleansing,’ also called Kusasa Fumbi, which meant they should get rid of their inexperience with sex through practice.
Not all initiation ceremonies in Malawi encourage girls to have sex, as programs and local cultures vary throughout the diverse country, which is home to several ethnic groups and languages.
Pockets exist throughout the country, especially in the south, that teach sexually explicit content to their youth. Initiation that encourage pre-marital sex are practised among various ethnic groups, including the Yao and Lomwe, which are based in the south, according to Malawi Human Rights Commission, which is charged with investigating rights violations.
The commission also reported that girls as young as six have been sent to initiation camps, where they’re taught how to have sex. It condemned the sexual curriculum for young girls, saying it impinges “on a number of rights of the girl child such as the right to education, the right to health, and the right to personal liberty and dignity.”
Human rights groups and researchers have also found instances when a man, nicknamed a hyena or fisi, has sexual intercourse with newly initiated girls as part of the rite of passage. Men enter the girls’ room, one woman told a focus group which was held for teens and adults by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers to examine perspectives on initiation rites.
“They say they want to see whether the girls have really grown up by having sex with them,” she was quoted as saying,
In Malawi, over 10% of the population between the ages of 15 and 49 have HIV/AIDS, according to national data.
“There’s no benefit to the sex education,” said Mkandawire. “This is harmful to the girls. This is one of the factors fuelling child marriage in Malawi. Why teach girls this when they’re nine or 10 years old?”
Malawi ranks 10th for the highest rate of child marriages in the world, with half of its children married before the age of 18, according to the World Health Organization. The country also suffers one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates, according to UNICEF. And 35% of all pregnancies in Malawi come from teenage mothers.
The younger the girls, the more they are at risk for pregnancy-related problems such as fistulas — a condition that results in leaking urine and feces — bleeding and other complications.
Culled from Stella Dimokokorkus
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