In the twenty-first century, we must deal with some cultural practices that were common in antiquity yet served only to mistreat and degrade women and children.
Let’s face it. Up until today, there are some sectors in our society that still see no evil in child marriages, such as using the girl child to appease avenging spirits (Kuripa ngozi), virginity testing, and child pledging (Kuzvarira). Both cultural and religious beliefs hinder people from accessing health services. These harmful practices not only violate the rights of children but also expose them to health risks such as early pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and psychological trauma. It is crucial to address these cultural and religious beliefs through education and awareness campaigns to ensure that children are protected from such harmful practices.
During our Quality Service Assurance Sessions with teachers and village health workers in Chihota, where we are implementing a project called Gender Norms Transformation to address the root causes of inequalities norms and generate positive and sustainable change, they pointed out that these harmful practices prevent people from accessing health services and engaging in productive activities, both of which are critical for their development.
They also emphasized the need for involving community leaders and church leaders in these campaigns to ensure that the message is effectively communicated and accepted by the community as a whole.
Let’s talk about it. Let’s think about it. Let’s protect our communities from harmful cultural and religious practices.