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Women's forum withdraws a girl from Kupimbira cultural practice

Kupimbira is a cultural custom commonly practiced in the northern part of Malawi where young girls as young as five years old are forced into sexual relationships with older men or are married off to men by their parents. The girls are exchanged for goods or as settlements for outstanding debts by their parents.

 Seventeen year old Kisa Mkumbwa who hails from Chamanthenga village in the area of senior chief Kameme in Chitipa district is one of the girls who has gone through the evil throes of Kupimbira. In 2010 her father received MK27, 000.00 from a businessman called Mr. Kayuni in agreement that the parents would give him their  daughter Kisa to marry without her knowledge.

Kayuni already had two wives and Kisa was going to be the third.

“ I Tried to plead with my father to let me finish my primary school but he forced me out of his house and sent me to Mr. Kayuni’s house and I became his wife against my wishes” ,narrates Kisa.

After 3 days of missing school, the headmaster at Kisa’s school followed up on Kisa who was a beneficiary of the Girls’ Ambassadors Scholarship Programme (a US government sponsored programme.) only to find out that she had been married of to Kayuni.

 The headmaster then referred the case to the Chitipa Women Forum (Partners of ActionAid Malawi).

 

The Women Forum acted immediately and called for a meeting with Kayuni, Kisa’s parents, the village headman and members of Kayuni’s family.

Women Forum counseled and enlightened the members on the laws regarding children’s rights to education. They were warned that if they resisted, they would be taken to police and court as that was a violation of Kisa’s rights to education.

Kayuni realized that what he had done was a serious violation of human rights and agreed to let Kisa go and continue with her education.