Editor's Comment

Yes, traditional leaders should end sexual cleansing, child marriage

IT IS unbelievable that in the 21st century, some Zambians could still be practicing sexual cleansing, inheritance of widows and early marriages.
Such practices belong to the Stone Age era and there is urgent need to eliminate them because as President Lungu put it on Saturday, do not add value to people’s well-being.
When he officiated at the Lunda Lubanza traditional ceremony in Zambezi district on Saturday, Mr Lungu urged traditional leaders to drive the elimination of harmful practices because they are custodians of cultural heritage.
True to Mr Lungu’s observations, the harmful practices are defeating the essence for modernisation and no traditional rulers worth their salt would want to continue associating themselves with such traits of primitive savagery.
Societies which have continued practicing sexual cleansing, inheritance of widows and early marriages are living in denial because they have blatantly refused to move with the times.
Such practices are still rife in communities which still hold women in some kind of bondage and want to use them to satisfy their sexual appetite, which unfortunately is insatiable.
How would we explain a situation where full blooded human beings would still cling to archaic traditions such as sexual cleansing as a way of liberating a widow from the spirit of the deceased?
When a human being dies, they cease to exist and should be allowed to rest in peace by not subjecting their surviving spouses to the injustice of being forced to sleep with relatives of the deceased as a way of cleansing the widow. That is barbaric.
The same applies to the malpractice of inheritance of widows – a cultural and social practice whereby a widow is compelled to marry a kinsman of her late husband, often his brother.
This is extremely unfair because a widow is not a property which has to be transferred to another.
Widows should be allowed to enjoy their human rights to move on after burial – without having to be forced to re-marry, especially to a person the widow never imagined to get married to.
President Lungu also highlighted the issue of child marriage which is also rife in Zambia – a Christian nation by declaration.
President Lungu’s counsel is wise because there is never a better time to address child marriage in Zambia than now considering that ours has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world with about 42 percent of women aged 20-24 years married by the age of 18 – a rate that has not evolved since 2002.
We are aware that in Zambia, girls who are affected by poverty, lack of education and longstanding traditional practices that discriminate against girls and women are the most vulnerable to child marriage.
However, lustful men should not take advantage of poverty to perpetuate the abuse of the girl-child.
Marrying of girls early deprives them a future as they are consigned to motherhood earlier than they were supposed to.
The cultural and social malpractices cited by President Lungu during the Lunda Lubanza ceremony are not only immoral but are unfortunately some of the drivers of HIV epidemic.
They also perpetuate poverty and its off-shoot of hunger and illiteracy – among the many socio-economic challenges Government is tirelessly fighting.

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