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Malawi Campaigners Seek To Give Girls Age-Appropriate Information During Initiation Ceremony

To further discourage teenage pregnancy, traditional leaders like are dividing girls' initiation rituals into two camps.

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Malawi, girls
Madalitso Makosa became a teen mother because of Kusasa Fumbi or "removing the dust" tradition which required young girls lose their virginity, often without protection, to become an adult. VOA

In rural Malawi, families send girls as young as 12 years old for “initiation,” a traditional, cultural practice that marks a child’s entry into adulthood. But child rights campaigners say the ritual entices young girls into early sex, marriage, and teenage pregnancy — forcing many to drop out of school. One local organization is seeking to change this by teaching initiation counselors to give girls age-appropriate information.

Madalitso Makosa was 13 years old when she underwent a traditional, Malawian initiation ritual to become an adult.

She says after the initiation ceremony, the counselors advised her to perform a Kusasa Fumbi or “removing the dust” ritual with a man of my choice. She chose to sleep with her former boyfriend but, unfortunately, became pregnant.

Malawi, girls
Agnes Matemba, an initiation counselor, demonstrates how instructions are given to adolescents at the camps. VOA

 

“Removing the dust” refers to a girl losing her virginity, often without protection, to become an adult. Those who become teenage mothers pay the price for this tradition.

Makosa says when she discovered she was pregnant, she was devastated because she had to drop out of school. She is now struggling to get support to take care of her baby. She wished she had continued with her education.”

 

Malawi, girls
A counselor demonstrates a sexually suggestive dance during an initiation camp. VOA

 

During the initiation, counselors show how they prepare girls for marriage and for sex.

Agnes Matemba, is an initiation counselor.

She says she gives girls these lessons so that they should keep their man and prevent him from going out to look for another woman. Because, if he goes out and finds excitement in other women, he is likely to dump her.

Child rights campaigners say the initiation ritual fuels Malawi’s high rate of child marriage. Half the girls here marry before age 18.

Malawian group Youthnet and Counselling, YONECO, wants to keep girls in school with a more age-appropriate initiation ritual.

MacBain Mkandawire is YONECO’s executive director.

Malawi, girls
Aidah Deleza, also called Senior Chief Chikumbu, says she has banned Kusasa Fumbi or “removing the dust” component from the girls’ initiation ceremonies. VOA

“This is a traditional cultural thing that people believe in, and it will be very difficult to just say let us end initiation ceremonies,” Mkandawire said. “But what we are saying is that can we package the curriculum in such way the young people are accessing the correct curriculum at the correct time?”

YONECO is working with initiation counselors and traditional leaders to tone down Malawi’s initiations. Already, some areas are banning the practice of encouraging sex after the ceremony.

Aidah Deleza is also known as Senior Chief Chikumbu.

“We say no, no, no,” Chikumbu said. “This is why we have a lot of girls drop out from school, that is why the population has just shot so high just because of that, just because a lot of girls now they have got babies, most of them they are not in marriage.”

Also Read: Cheetahs in Malawi: Poaching and Wildlife Trafficking endangers Africa’s most Iconic Species

To further discourage teenage pregnancy, traditional leaders like Chikumbu are dividing girls’ initiation rituals into two camps.

One is a simple ceremony for teenage girls like Makosa, while the other provides some sex education for older girls who are preparing to marry. (VOA)

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The Ways Girls And Boys Get Into Hacking is Quite Different

While kids with low self-control, are more likely to hack, the ways girls and boys get into hacking could be quite different

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hacking, girls, boys, cyber crime, cyber security
For boys, we found that time spent watching TV or playing computer games were associated with hacking. Pixabay

While kids with low self-control, or not having the ability to hold back when opportunity presents itself, are more likely to hack, the ways girls and boys get into hacking could be quite different, says a new study.

“For girls, peer associations mattered more. If she has friends who shoplift or engage in petty forms of crime, she’s more likely to be influenced to hack as well,” said lead study author and cybercrime expert Thomas Holt from Michigan State University in the US.

“For boys, we found that time spent watching TV or playing computer games were associated with hacking,” Holt said.

Holt assessed responses from 50,000 teenagers from around the world to determine predictors of hacking.

He said that some of the findings show how kids are raised within gender roles, such as letting boys play video games and giving girls different activities.

For boys and girls, simply having opportunities to hack were significant in starting such behaviour.

This could include having their own bedroom, their own computer or the freedom of doing what they want on the internet without parental supervision.

hacking, girls, boys, cyber crime, cyber security
For boys and girls, simply having opportunities to hack were significant in starting such behaviour.
Pixabay

While most schools have computer and Internet access, Holt explained that there are still some geographic barriers for kids to enter cybercrime.

The researchers found that kids who had mobile phone access early on were more likely to hack — especially if they lived in larger cities.

Spending time with peers was more likely to influence delinquent behaviour for those living in smaller cities, said the study published in the journal Crime & Delinquency.

ALSO READ: New Apple Updates to Arrive on 24 September, Says Report

The researchers also found a connection between pirating movies and music and hacking.

It’s important for parents to understand their kids’ tech-savviness and habits to help guide them on a path that uses their skills in a more positive way.

“Parents shouldn’t assume that having a kid with sophisticated technological competency is always totally fine,” Holt said. (IANS)