Senior Chief Malemia Bemoans Harmful Cultural Practices

A prominent chief in Shire Valley says harmful cultural practices continue to haunt young girls and women despite vigorous efforts being made by various stakeholders to eradicate the vice.

Senior Chief Malemia told Zodiak on Friday that some people including village heads are still perpetuating harmful cultural practices like Fisi and kuchotsa fumbi (a situation where a girl child is enticed into sexual activities after going through an initiation) which he said are making a lot of girls to drop out of school.

“It is sad that some people are still failing to realize that these beliefs are fueling teen pregnancies and child marriages,” complained Senior Chief Malemia.

The traditional leader has since encouraged fellow chiefs, community leaders and the media to join hands in creating a favorable environment for women and a girl child.

“It is pleasing that some traditional leaders are gradually understanding the importance of ending bad cultural practices. For instance, I have dissolved more than 30 child marriages in my area. I know other areas have also done the same,” said he.

In most rural parts of Malawi, families send girls as young as 12 years old for "initiation," a traditional, cultural practice that marks a child's entry into adulthood.

Child rights campaigners say the ritual entices young girls into early sex, marriage, and teenage pregnancy — forcing many to drop out of school.

That aside, such beliefs put women and girls at a risk of catching HIV/Aids which brings a lot of pain on the majority of the population.

Recently, a child activist, Memory Chisenga said there is a need for the country to uproot major causes that violate rights of women and girls.

“Let us remove all the barriers and put in place sustainable ways of supporting and keeping the girl child in school,” said Chisenga.

Research has shown that child marriages, a violation of rights, increases dropouts and teenage pregnancies. This does not only put girls' lives under threat, but also compromises their future opportunities, fueling gender-based poverty.

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