Traditional leaders in Salima have condemned some cultural practices, including kutomela, saying they fuel school dropout in the district.

This was disclosed on Wednesday during a media tour UN-JPGE organised with financial support from the Government of Norway.

The tour was aimed at raising awareness on the need for girls in the district to return to school.

Back to school: Some of the teen mothers

Senior Chief Maganga described kutomela as a tradition whereby a young man impregnates an underage girl and leaves for South Africa as an assurance that the girl will wait for him to perform marriage rights.

The chief also warned that the newly-passed law has mandated chiefs to tighten the by-laws as one way of curbing the malpractice.

“Let me commend some non-governmental organisations such as World Food Programme [WFP] and United Nations Children’s Fund [Unicef] for their intervention towards the girls’ child education. So far, about 12 teen mothers have gone back to school and they are performing very well,” he said.

One of the teen mothers, a beneficiary of Go Back to School Campaign, Tiyamike Jovelo, thanked mother groups for encouraging her to return to school despite being a mother.

“I got pregnant when I was 14 and I blamed my parents for not telling me about reproductive health. I returned to school and achieved my dream of becoming a nurse,” she said. n

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