Sexual rites of passage

  (Redirected from Sexual cleansing)

Certain rites of passage involve sexual activities.

Sexual cleansing after menarcheEdit

Sexual ‘cleansing’ is ceremony where a girl has sex as a cleansing ritual following the first menstruation.[1] This is known in some regions of Malawi as kusasa fumbi, meaning "brushing off the dust".[2][3][4] This is also sometimes performed after an abortion. In Malawi, the practice of sexual cleansing is largely confined to Salima, Chikwawa, and Nsanje District. It is also practiced in parts of Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Ivory Coast, and Congo.[5]

Prepubescent girls are often sent to a training camp where women known as anamkungwi or "key leaders" teach how to cook, clean, and have sex to be a wife.[6] After the training, a hyena is a traditional position held by a man who performs the cleansing for females usually aged 12–17 years,[1][7][6] and gets paid from $4 to $7 each time. The rite lasts for three days. Sometimes, the girl is required to perform an explicit dance bare breasted known as chisamba at the end of their initiation as they are being presented to the whole community.[5]

The practice can place young girls at risk of HIV infection because the hyena has sexual intercourse with all the girls and the ritual requires the exchange of sexual fluids, so condoms are not used.[2][3] The rite is claimed by traditionalist Malawians to prevent disease. Hyenas are usually selected for their moral character and are often erroneously believed to be incapable of catching diseases such as HIV/AIDS,[1] though there is documented evidence of practicing, HIV-positive Hyenas.[8]

Sex training testsEdit

In a three month ritual known as Chinamwali in the Eastern province of Zambia, female initiators known as Alangizi teach sex skills to girls as young as 12. Much is underreported and those undergone the ritual are sworn to secrecy. After the training, they are sent to an older man from the community who is a tester who tests their skills in sex and sees if they need to go back to training.[9]

Sexual cleansing after widowhoodEdit

Sexual cleansing after widowhood is a tradition requiring a woman to have sex after widowhood as a cleansing. It is found in parts of Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Ivory Coast, and Congo.[10][11] This is known as Kulowa kufa in Malawi.[12]

It is often forced upon the woman by the deceased husband's family. Those refusing to be cleansed risk getting beaten by superstitious villagers, who may also harm the woman's children. It is argued that this notion arose from the idea that if a husband dies, the woman may have performed witchcraft against him. Cleansing can be done by the deceased husband's brother or other relative [10] or otherwise by a paid sex worker. Typically, after sex, the widow burns her clothes, and the man shaves the widow's hair, often outside so that the neighborhood can witness that the widow is now cleansed. A chicken is slaughtered at the end of the ceremony, which usually lasts from three to seven days. Widow cleansing was outlawed in Kenya in a 2015 domestic offences bill.[13]

Boy insemination initiation ritesEdit

Initiation rites of prepubescent boys as young as seven among groups in the highlands of New Guinea involved sexual acts with older males. Fellatio and semen ingestion is found among the Sambia, the Baruya[14] and Etoro. Among the Kaluli people, this involves anal sex to deliver semen to the boy. These rites often revolve around beliefs that women represent a cosmic disorder.[14] This rite of ‘boy insemination’ was also found among societies in aboriginal Australia, ancient Greece and Tokugawa Japan.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Ed Butler (21 July 2016). "The man hired to have sex with children". BBC News. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b Anderson, E-L (2015). Gender, HIV and Risk: Navigating structural violence. Palgrave MacMillan.
  3. ^ a b Anderson, E-L (2012). "Infectious Women: Gendered bodies and HIV in Malawi". International Feminist Journal of Politics. 14 (2): 267–287. doi:10.1080/14616742.2012.659850.
  4. ^ Munthali, AC; Zulu, EM (December 2007). "The timing and role of initiation rites in preparing young people for adolescence and responsible sexual and reproductive behaviour in Malawi". African Journal of Reproductive Health. 11 (3): 150–67. doi:10.2307/25549737. JSTOR 25549737. PMC 2367147. PMID 18458746.
  5. ^ a b "Kusasa Fumbi – The Sexual Rite Of Passage". The Guardian. 2 February 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  6. ^ a b Beenish Ahmed (January 20, 2014). "Confronting a Sexual Rite of Passage in Malawi". The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  7. ^ "Malawian 'hyena man' arrested for having sex with children". BBC. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Au Malawi, Louis, une " hyène " payée pour violer". Le 26 July 2017 – via Le Monde.
  9. ^ "Zambian sex initiators lead revolution for young women". Reuters. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  10. ^ a b Rachel Awuor (2007-11-01). "Widow cleansing: 'Good' intentions – negative consequences". Farm Radio International. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  11. ^ Kizito Makoye (4 October 2013). "Widow sexual cleansing ritual continues in Tanzania". Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Sexual cleansing Practices rage on". The Nation. 9 May 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  13. ^ "These Kenyan widows are fighting against sexual 'cleansing'". 23 October 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Zambian sex initiators lead revolution for young women". NewLeftReview. 2004. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  15. ^ Henrich, Joseph (2010). "The weirdest people in the world?". Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 33 (2–3): 61–83. doi:10.1017/s0140525x0999152x. hdl:11858/00-001M-0000-0013-26A1-6. PMID 20550733.