Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Police in Malawi torch 'sex-training' initiation shacks

23 September 2016, 13:10 Brian Ligomeka, News24 Correspondent

Blantyre - Police in eastern Malawi have torched several initiation camps which were allegedly teaching children sexual skills instead of offering them "sound advice".

Machinga District Police Spokesperson Dave Sulumba confirmed the move in an interview.

"We have indeed torched some initiation camps built along river banks and on mountain slopes. We are not against the cultural practice of chinamwali (initiation) but the government wants children to go to school," he said. 

According to Sulumba, many traditional chiefs have supported the torching of the shacks being used as initiation camps because the new school year is now in session.

"There is realisation amongst most chiefs that initiation ceremonies are linked to teenage pregnancies and child marriages. These can be addressed by improving children’s access to basic education," he said.

Initiation ceremonies in rural Malawi are regarded as the transitional passage from childhood to adulthood.
During school holidays, children spend some weeks at initiation camps where they are taught household chores and how to conduct themselves once married.

Divided opinion

There are mixed reactions on whether the practice should continue.

Some believe that initiation ceremonies are part of cultural preservation while others regard them as sex-training camps which fuel sexually risk behaviour amongst the youth.


These female initiates in eastern Malawi have now graduated into adulthood after their initiation. (News24)

Some initiated youths have also complained of wasting their time at initiation camps where they claim the key lessons are about how to perform sex in bed.

"There is nothing like cultural education at such camps, as the focus is on sexual education and the singing of obscene songs," said one newly initiate.

She said the so-called graduation from childhood to adulthood through initiation ceremonies focuses on how to have sex and lose virginity.

Malawi Human Rights Commission in its reports on traditional cultural practices made a similar observation that the performance of sex is emphasized at initiation ceremonies.

"The girls are taken to this isolated place, which is called thedzo and tsimba (initiation camp) where they are taught some pieces of advice. The girls are also taught how to offer the best sex to their male counterparts," reads the Commission’s report in part.

The commission made the observation in a report titled “Cultural Practices and their Impact on the Enjoyment of Human Rights, Particularly the Rights of Women and Children in Malawi.”   


A local human rights group, Girls with Passion believes that the consequences of initiation ceremonies include HIV transmission and upsurge of child marriages.

"Initiation ceremonies should be banned. Teaching girls how to perform sex in bed at initiation ceremonies is one of the drivers of early marriages and teenage pregnancies," says the group director Darlington Harawa.

According to Harawa, the worst part of it is that both boys and girls are encouraged to have sex as a proof that they have indeed graduated from childhood to adulthood.

He explained: "The problem is that some get infected with HIV in the process of proving that they are grown up after being to initiation camps." 

The advice they receive from initiation ceremonies, coupled with dire poverty, is what leads drives young girls into prostitution and early marriages.

"The problem of early marriages can be addressed by reforming or even banning such practices as chinamwali or initiation ceremonies," Harawa explained.

 According to a Report of Profiling Early Marriages in Malawi by National Youth Council, half of Malawian females marry before they reach their 18th birthday.

The council says 35% of females aged between 15 and 19 become pregnant or mothers annually an indication of high teenage pregnancies.

Botched circumcision

Besides encouraging promiscuity, initiation rites are also in the spotlight because of the injuries and the death that occur at such camps. 

In July this year, for instance, a 13-year-old boy died at one of the initiation camps in central Malawi’s district of Kasungu due to severe bleeding, after undergoing circumcision.

Newly-initiated boys are now regarded as adults after being initiation at camps for several weeks. (News24)

The police confirmed that Sayineti died on a river bank and the initiation camp leaders buried him without taking his body to a hospital.

"Medical personnel and police officers exhumed the body and conducted a postmortem which showed the boy died of severe bleeding due to the circumcision which went wrong," said Kasungu police publicist Edna Mzingwitsa.

Initiation ceremonies are not only rampant in Malawi but in several African countries where this rite of passage into adulthood follows a bush retreat of some weeks and is widely seen as a test of physical endurance. 

- News24


Read more from our Users

Submitted by
George Vodongo
Peter Kenneth will not run for Pr...

He clarified that he will not run for Presidency in 2017 as he supports Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election bid. Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Exams should not have political g...

He also said that school properties must not ‘carry any political portraits’. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Matatu crew drugs female passenge...

Hours after the story was circulated on social media Sunday, the crew was traced at Dagoretti and arrested. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
How to get rid of cellulite at ho...

Proper diets and a healthy lifestyle are among the most effective natural remedies for cellulite. Read more...

Submitted by
George Vodongo
Peter Kenneth is not a good leade...

A local activist has slammed the former Presidential candidate Peter Kenneth for only appearing during elections but going underground when the country has problems.  Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Javelin champion Julius Yego invo...

He is undergoing treatment at the Medihill hospital in Eldoret. Read more...