By–laws to eradicate harmful cultural practices in Phalombe


Communities in Traditional Authority Jenala in Phalombe have designed by–laws to end some of the cultural practices that are contributing to the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and the rise in early pregnancies in the district.

This was revealed on Tuesday during an open day meeting organized by Centre for Alternatives Victimized Women and Children (CAVWOC) aimed at disseminating information on the dangers of such practices.

Harmful cultural practices putting lives of women, girls in danger.(file image)

Among other things, the by-laws are outlawing practices known in vernacular as kusasa fumbi (sexual cleansing) and kuthira mchere (applying salt).

According to Group Village Headman Tsikulamowa, in the kusasa fumbi practice girls coming from initiation ceremonies are advised to sleep with men in order for them to avoid diseases and in the kuthira mchere tradition, when a girl has her first menstruation she is told to stop applying salt in relish until she has sex with a man.

“We are concerned with the way the two traditional practices are affecting girls’ education in our areas because after they go through these practices most of them continue to have regular sex with men and as a result they end up pregnant,” explained GVH Tsikulamowa.

He added that school drop-out cases are common in the area of the Traditional Authority, a thing that poses dangers to the future of the land.

“As such we have put it in our by-laws that any person found practicing these rituals in our area should be fined with five goats and also be handed over to Police for lawful punitive actions,” he further added.

One citizen of the area Chifundo Zicheche asked the chiefs to exercise transparency and accountability in enforcing the laws which he hoped would bring change in the social behaviours of the people.

“These chiefs have been forming different by-laws before but due to lack of accountability and transparency some of the laws ended up being demolished again because they were being abused, and sometimes re-enforcement left a lot to be desired,” said Zicheche.

Project Officer for CAVWOC Smart Mvula hailed the chiefs’ understanding that the organization is not trying to kill cultural practices but rather make them pro-development.

“We want culture to contribute to development not to shoot down efforts by government in development, that is why we are supporting the chiefs in banishing the harmful practices so that we can remain with only the good ones that will allow our girls to attain education,” said Mvula.