Thirty Most Violent Sexual Harmful Cultural Practices The World Must Protect Girls From

The invisible orphaned girls

The invisible orphaned girls picture by Paola Gianturco

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The situation for girls is tragic worldwide. There is a war on girls bodies and it looks it will rage on without society stopping it. Yes it is time inform the world that there are 20 most harmful cultural practices that devastate the lives of girls which must be challenged at once and eliminated. There are some silent deaths and losses that happen because some harmful cultural practices whether coming from modern or old days are not campaigned against. Yes we all agree with the fact that Female Genital Mutilation especially cutting is the most evil of them all but apparently those we choose to be silent about are as devastating as those we highlight daily. In an effort to educate all those taking campaigns for girls forward, we actually ask that our suggestion that removing harm from culture be a campaign needing focus. If we focus on FGM too much and leave other harmful cultural practices we create an impression that these are less crimes. I am so sure any future campaigns will be most inclusive so that anyone doing any of the 20 below be made aware that they are causing pain and harm on girls. We listed all the 20 most harmful sexual violent linked harmful cultural practices with hope that a more holistic approach is done on them. Please note this is work in progress and we will post more information.

Myths and Mere Excuses- Harmful Cultural practices

  1. Chinamwali- This is rampant in Malawi and parts of Chiredzi in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Girls stop going to school and start summer sex training camps in secluded areas in the bushes. The goal is to please future husbands.
  2. FGM Type 1 also called Clitoridectomy-Cutting-it is total or partial cutting of the labia and/or labia of a woman to stop them being sexually active. It is the most well-known FGM type. During the procedure many girls lose their lives.
  3. FGM Type 2 also known as Excision- This is partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia.
  4. FGM Type 3-Infabulation leaves a small whole on genital part of a woman after sewing in and out of the clitoris or labia minora. When a woman is married she can have this removed. It is meant to preserve her virginity.
  5. FGM Type 4-labia elongation –is often classified under genital modification but this is the complete opposite of cutting. Girls under 12 are taught how to pull out their labia. The danger is that many pull the wrong parts. It has the same pain as cutting and can cause infections and cysts. Countries which practice this are Malawi, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Zambia.
  6. Breast ironing-This is a practice where a hot plate or hot towel is tied around a girl`s breasts to stop them from growing so that she does not attract men and boys resulting in her pregnancy.
  7. Virginity testing –This is rampant in apostolic churches in Zimbabwe and worldwide. A girl is forced to confess sexual activity as a way to stay clean during church service. If it is suspected that she is sexually active, she is forced to open her legs and water poured on her genital organ checking how deep it goes. In some communities girls found virgins get certificates and those who are not are forced to marry men who deflowered them as a way to cleanse them. Virginity also is tested on day a woman is married. If she is found not a virgin a white cloth is burnt and holed and then it is paraded everywhere as a way to embarrass and punish her as a way to claim less bride price.
  8. Lip enlarging –This is rampant in Ethiopia and is a practice where big wooden flat shaped things are forced on girls so that they remain beautiful
  9. Forced marriages/Child Brides /Arranged marriages – It is family of a girl who makes an arrangement with or without her approval to get him a man they want due to religious and cultural reasons. A girl can be married to a total stranger.  In Zimbabwe this practice has somewhat stopped as it was called Musengabere.
  10. Honour killings-If a girl finds a boyfriend or man not from this same religion, she is regarded unclean and to have disgraced the family. She is then killed. Many women have been stoned as a result of this.
  11. Rape as a weapon of war –This is now rampant and recently it was concluded that being a soldier in DRC is better than being a woman there. During was it is a culture to rape women and that considered normal.
  12. Virgins cure Aids Myths-There is a belief that if one sucks the blood of a baby, toddler or little girl and they are HIV positive, they can be cleansed. Girl Child Network Worldwide has a documentary to show this practice and how our organisation dealt with the myth
  13. Reed dance –King Mswati of Swaziland is the champion in this practice. Every year girls aged from 12 to 18 strip naked in front of him and he chooses one virgin to marry. So far he has 15 wives as a result of this practice. He chooses 1 out of over 30 000 girls. The Reed dance keeps him and other men sexually active. Annually he must shed out blood from a virgin for him to keep his manhood and bring wealth to himself.
  14. Ngozi-Appeasing the deceased by giving a girl to marriage. If a girl`s family member murdered someone for instance, strictly a virgin girl is given to go bear boy children to replace the deceased. No matter how many girls she bears, a boy will resolve the murder case.
  15. Nhova- Kutara- is a way man use their semen to treat the soft tissue on top of a head of a baby. This practice is believed to sure impotence in men and enlarge their organs.
  16. Virgins bring wealth and jobs- the reason why some men rape their daughters is because they think this makes them richer. As much as breasts bring milk so does a girl`s virgin blood.
  17. Holy Spirit marriage-This is rampant in the Johane Marange church in Zimbabwe. A man points to a girl during church service and claims that in a dream God gave her a girl to be his wife. Some girls are given to the men even before birth. The youngest girl to be married in this church is aged 10.
  18. Chigadzamapfihwa-this is a practice of replacing a dead sister with her sibling or for an aunt with her niece. When a mum is widowed he can demand that a woman be given to him to replace his wife. He can also demand a wife to be given to him if the older sister cannot bear children. This practice gave many men justification to rape their wives` little sisters.
  19. Chiramu- a husband is permitted by culture to force young sister to his wife to have sex or touch his breasts. The practice is still rampant everywhere and result in rape cases being settled out of court.
  20. Beauty pageants- where a girl strips naked to a bikini-Girls as sex objects. Creates images of girls who have only bottom power and nothing in their heads. It is done for commercial purposes and marketing countries tourist attractions. But what has tourism to do with naked body. We also support campaigns to have page 3 removed in UK as it is a harmful cultural practice.
  21. Girls have sex at age 6 – In Papua Guinea, girls start sex at age 6. Read more here.
  22. Albino- murder of albino children for ritual purposes. This has happened a lot in Tanzania. It is believed albinos bring bad luck to communities.
  23. Father in law forced sex with first daughter in law- In Mutoko, Zimbabwe, there are also cases of newly married young women being forced to have sexual intercourse with their fathers in law as ritual to accept her into the family.
  24. Sex with daughter- This belief in witchcraft is still rife among the BaTonga in Zambezi valley. A man would have sex with his daughter to be exorcised of witchcraft. Because of magic and traditional beliefs some men sleeps with their daughters after the first menstrual period. If the daughter refuses, they claim, she will never have a child of her own when she gets married.
  25. Excessive bride price payment-Bride price has cultural respect because it was given as a token of appreciation to a family where the woman is coming from. However, many people have abused it and charging would be grooms thousands of dollars making it more criminal and commercial than cultural. It has been cited as biggest cause of domestic violence where a man claims to beat his wife because he paid for her.
  26. Non virgin forced testimonies in churches- this religious practice violates the right to privacy. Most young women and girls are brain washed on issues of being pure and so they open up on being non virgins and this often results in stigma and discrimination.
  27. Ritual murders -ritual murders by businessmen who think body parts makes one richer and more prosperous.
  28. Sale of Clitoris to fishermen-It is a belief that after FGM fishermen can make a bigger catch if they use clitoris. So there is a tendency amongst them to pre order and look at for FGM sessions so that they could buy them.
  29. 29. Punishment for having sex before one year after husband`s death-kupisa guva-women are not allowed to have love affairs or sex with men of their choice after their husbands are deceased. There is punishment if this is found out. This practice controls women`s bodies and decide for them who next should have sex with them.
  30. Using herbs to dry vagina –Women and girls insert herbs into private parts

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