An excerpt from a blog by Sharmiladhungana Sharmila was…
Listen as this 15-year old shares her story of leadership and courage against harmful cultural practices.
My name is Grace Mwase, I come from Godeni village, T.A (Traditional authority) Chitera in Chiradzulu district, Malawi. I am 15 years old. In my community, once a girl reaches puberty, she is sent to initiation camps to undergo initiation ceremony where she is initiated into adulthood. So when I reached puberty, my parents also sent me for the initiation ceremony. Whilst at the initiation camp we were taught various cultural practices which symbolized our transition into adulthood.Once a girl is initiated, she is perceived to be an adult. One of the cultural practices that are prominent during the initiation ceremony is called ‘kusasa fumbi’, a sexual cleansing practice in which a man is hired to have sex with a girl.
“When I heard that a man had to sleep with me, I made a decision and refused, because I felt it wasn’t right and I am still too young to have sex.”
From that time, every year I go to the initiation camp, where I advise new initiates to refuse this practice because it is harmful for us and is a barrier to our future. I believe that we girls have the power and ability to stop these harmful cultural practices.
Let Girls Lead’s Global Girls Conversation Video Contest brings together 142 girls in 26 countries to share their amazing stories with you online. Grace placed in the top winning videos of that competition!
Watch other stories here
Girls VOICING their stories of leadership and courage.
BONUS: Madison Park of CNN published this in-depth news story about the practice of “sexual cleansing” which features an additional video interview with Grace and Robyn Curnow’s informative video interview with Malawian lawyer, mother, and gender activist Seodi White who fights injustice.
4GGL thanks Let Girls Lead for bringing this story to our attention.
Let Girls Lead is building a global movement of Champions who protect girls from violence, and ensure they can attend school, stay healthy, and learn skills to escape poverty. To date, they have contributed to the improved education, health, livelihoods, and rights of 3 million girls through girl-friendly laws, funding, and programs around the world.