Harmful cultural practices fueling child marriage

May 30, 2016

In the words of Nelson Mandela they can be no keener revelation on a society’s soul than the way it treats its children but when takes a closer look at some of the harmful traditional and cultural customs performed by the Nyau culture popularly known as Zvigure and the Chinamwari traditional customs which all trace back their roots to Malawi leaves a lot not to be desired as they have become dangerous proponents of child marriage which is a direct challenge to Africa’s sustainable future.

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Colourful dresses fused by energetic well-choreographed dances are a spectacle when the Zvigure comes to town but one of Africa’s longest surviving cultural groups have become suspect to the vices of child marriage. It is alleged that young girls are obliged to have sex with senior members of the group and with the option to marry left to the discretion of the senior male figures who in most cases would be twice the age of the girls. More so lack of access to information on sexual reproductive health education and the dangers of child marriage amongst the group are also hindering progress as most girls are falling victim to sexually transmitted diseases, child marriages, HIV to mention just but a few. Urgent attention needs to be undertaken to understand and regularise the activities of these groups to wade of the continuous exploitation of the girl child which is not going to be an easy task as the Nyau culture is a secret society which observes several secret rituals that in the years gone by no one can close to understanding them hence emergence of several misconceptions abound against the society.

To add on the once glorified traditional custom of Chinamwari which had become a doyen of girl child empowerment through the wise teachings of grandmothers who enrolled young girls to a boot camp to be taught on the glories of being a woman, personal hygiene and how to take of their future husbands and children has now been turned into a shame and a disgrace. The custom which once propelled girl child empowerment now facilitates their doom as it has become infiltrated by bogus teachers who merely just bombard young girls with nothing more than the seductive art of sex education rather than focussing on other constructive topics which has resulted in most young girls who have attended Chinamwari wanting to experiment on what they have learned often leading them to un planned pregnancies, child marriages and even HIV.

To sum up more needs to be done to better protect the girl child if any efforts to eradicate child marriages are to go by in these traditional and cultural practises of Chinamwari and Zvigure.




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