In Malawi, girls as young as 10 are expected to go to “chinamwali” -a camp where they are taught how to sexually please men as they approach adulthood. This tradition is not only practiced in Malawi, other African countries do this too.
In the most extreme cases, a man who has been hired by the community comes and sleeps with the girls at the camp to prove that they have been well trained. As soon the girls return from the camp, most of them will be forced into a marriage.
In other traditions, some girls are given away as young as nine for marriage. They will long have been aware that once they reach puberty, there will be a man who their parents have already promised their child to.
They grow up with all of the most important decisions about their lives already made for them. So it is not surprising that so many girls drop out of school once they reach puberty.
And If girls are never taught at a young age that they can be leaders, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we have so few women in positions of power.
girls in Malawi learn how to sexually please men
Even when a girl has been sexually abused and exploited, the blame is always on the her. These social injustices against girls create a damaging chain of events. If nothing is don’t about it now, the vicious cycle will continue indefinitely.
These traditions can be stopped. Communities can be restructured. The human rights of all people must be respected. This is something that goes beyond the traditions, norms and beliefs that any community might have.
Of course, traditions exist. But how can it be right that, in the name of tradition, the human rights of young girls are taken away solely because of their sex?
It’s high time that girls are taught how to be tough, strong and able to make their own choices. Girls everywhere are strong. They have a voice and should have a choice about what happens in their lives.
Girls everywhere have to know that no matter where they are born they have a say about what goes on in their lives and their communities. Silence has never saved anyone.