Sex Camps designed to train girls for child marriage in Zambia and Mozambique

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Girls as young as eight in Mozambique and Zambia are

forced to go to camps where they are shown how to please

a man in bed in order to prepare them for married life,

activists said at an international conference on ending child

marriage.

These sexual initiations begin once menstruation starts and

sometimes involve sticks being inserted inside the girls,

Persilia Muianga of international aid agency World Vision

said.

She added that some mothers force young daughters to

sleep with a man in the belief this can bring on

menstruation.

Anglican priest Jackson Jones Katete said initiations in

Zambia happen among girls between the ages of eight and

13, and may involve girls being cut by women for not

performing sexual movements correctly.

“You … pay these (elderly) women to do this torturing to

your child,” he said, adding that men do not want to marry

girls unless they have been initiated.

“Immediately the girls come out of the camp, they are

saying … you are now ready for sex. And then the men

come … and then they begin to do the betrothals.”

The training, which can last a week and is shrouded in

secrecy, also teaches girls about hygiene, domestic duties

and how to conduct themselves in the community, Muianga

said, adding that community leaders fine parents if they do

not take their daughters to the initiations.

Muianga, a child protection expert, said the sexual age of

consent in Mozambique is 12 and many girls have babies

very early, putting their lives at risk.

Serious childbirth injuries such as fistulas are a big problem

because so many girls have babies before their bodies are

ready, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation during the

conference in the Moroccan city Casablanca.

Nearly half of girls in Mozambique and more than 40

percent in Zambia are married before they turn 18, even

though child marriage is illegal in both countries.

Bride prices paid to the girl’s family drive early marriage in

poor rural areas, Muianga said.

She said World Vision is training church leaders to tackle

issues around early initiations and child marriage, and will

help develop a similar initiative for Muslim communities.

Katete, who is director of the Anglican Street Children’s

Program in Zambia, said church leaders carry great

authority in his country and have a role to play in

addressing initiations and child marriage with their

congregations.

He added that keeping girls in school is crucial for fighting

early marriage, but most rural communities do not have

schools nearby and teachers in these regions are usually

men, which sends girls the signal that only boys deserve

education.

“We are now saying that you should build schools in

villages and have female teachers there as well who

can act as role models.”

The 3 day conference ending Thursday is hosted by Girls

Not Brides, a global partnership committed to eradicating

child marriage which affects some 720 million women

worldwide.

TWP

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Mr Cage

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