Local non governmental organizations have successfully put to end a cultural practice in the area of Traditional Authority Khombedzi in Salima district that has been exposing teenagers to sex.
Camping or ‘Tea Party’ has been a cultural norm that has been practiced in group village headman Chikaonga, T/A Khombedzi in the district for ages.
Under the norm, a selection of about 15 boys and 15 girls aged between 10 and 15 would engage in casual labour to raise funds for camping where they would experiment married life.
“It’s a norm that usually took place around festive season. They raised funds and food through piece works for camp, days before Christmas,” explained Rabecca Costa, Public Affairs Committee’s (PAC) Trainer of Trainers in the district.
She added: “In the camp, they behaved as married couples- the girl cooked for the boy and ran house chores just as a married woman does. They even have sexual encounters as married couples do.”
Meanwhile, through collective intervention under the Accelerating Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (Agewe) project funded by Royal Norwegian Embassy, the cultural norm has been ended.
Costa disclosed that the traditional the concerned boys and girls would get consent from their parents to go into such camps.
“Through the project we have managed to help parents understand the dangers of such practice. The boys and girls were exposed to sex which likely affected their education as some would fall pregnant. We engaged traditional leaders who have since helped to end the norm.”
Agewe is a NGO Gender Coordination Network project being implemented in partnership with PAC and Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC).