We gave thanks last week that senior Chief Inkosi Kachindamoto, a woman, annulled 300 child marriages in Malawi, supporting the country’s new law making 18 the minimum age for marriage in both genders.
Watching several TED Talks yesterday, the subject of Malawi’s child brides surfaced again in the passionate TED Woman2015 talk given by Malawi’s Memory Banda. Memory became an organizer in support of the new law against child marriage, and she also introduced me to the topic of ‘initiation camps’. Banda’s sister, who has three children and two failed marriages at age 16, was sent to an ‘initiation camp’ at age 11.
Memory Banda Speaks Against Child Marriage At TEDWoman 2015
The purpose of the ‘initiation camp’ is simple in that it teaches girls ‘how to sexually please a man’.
CNN wrote about Malawi’s ‘initiation camps’ last year, focusing on Grace, age 10. Like other girls in her village, Grace was not a victim of sex trafficking; nor was she forced to work in the sex trade.
“Everyone makes sure their child goes to initiation ceremony because you will not be accepted in the community,” said Jean Mweba, an education program specialist for reproductive health and adolescent health at the United Nations Population Fund. “It’s an issue of being accepted in the community.”
Noting that not every community in Malawi encourages sex at ‘initiation camp’, Mweba’s commission reported that girls as young as six were being instructed as to how to please a man and especially in communities in southern Malawi.