Thursday, February 27, 2014

Community amends initiation policy to control early pregnancies in Mulanje

By Elias Banda
The  initiation policy has been revisited in Traditional Authority Chikumbu in Mulanje to bring under control cases of early pregnancies while fostering the promotion of delayed sex debut among younger girls.
Prior to the review process girls and boys aged between 9 and 10 years were legible for initiation and were exposed to sex and family matters, a situation widely condemned by the community because such issues were morally against their age.  And when they graduated, they were expected to put what they learn t into practice, a  situation that led to increased early pregnancies and marriage. Early sex debut   also had a bearing on school dropout among girls as they highly preferred marriage to school. 

mothers are now encouraging and supporting the girl child to go to school
Hot issue: community members debating the initiation ceremony policy review.
ADRA Malawi through the Enhanced Livelihood Gender Empowerment Project (ELGE) launched a sensitization campaign by engaging community leaders and traditional counselors known as Anankungwi in the local language, emphasizing on the effects of   the custom. A series of community dialogue sessions were conducted to analyze the impact of the cultural practice and how it would affect the society at large.
Group Village Headman Chitambi said things were now changing and it was imperative that some of the traditional practices especially those that impinged human freedoms were removed from the society.
The current policy adopted by chiefs enforces that those legible for initiation ceremony should be 13 years and above and that matters of sex and family should be removed. The new policy also highlights that religious organizations should be engaged to provide spiritual and moral support to the girls and boys while they undergo initiation ceremony. 
Speaking in an interview, ELGE Project Manager Andiyesa Mhango said since the amendment of the policy, there is an observed shift from reliance on traditional counselors as sole girl instructors to mothers taking more responsibility of instructing their daughters.     Andiyesa said that the increased women enrollment in the adult literacy program is encouraging more parental support in the girl child education. She said that her project is monitoring the situation though there are positive indications that the targeted communities are now placing more value on education than culture.
The ELGE Project is being supported by Sweden to bring about individual and society positive change in Mulanje. 

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