IndexAfrica→ Mozambique


Featured: Makonde, Valenge; ®Swazi, ®Thonga, ®Lomwe, ®  Zanzibaris


In colonial rural Mozambique, “[w]omen were often promised in marriage in infancy and in some tribes child marriage was common” (Kruks and Wisner, 1984:p112)[1]. “Mozambique has one of the most severe crises of child marriage in the world today”[2].

“In northern Mozambique as elsewhere in Southern Africa, the elongation of the small vaginal lips that used to make or break a girl’s initiation, was started when the girl was 8 or 9 years old (Geisler, 1997:p96)[3]. “[…] young people have no sex education, girls drop out of school when they become pregnant, girls marry at a age 10 or 11, and men believe that having sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure them of AIDS”[4].

“Adolescents commence sexarche early, between 14 - 16 years old, motivated by curiosity and pleasure seeking.  For some, the initiation of sex comes not by choice but by the demands of their partner through emotional, physical, and economic coercion.   Both pathways reflect hegemonic cultural themes of male dominance through sexual conquest and female acquiescence.  In popular discourse, men conquer and women cede their sexual ‘parts’ ” (Karlyn, 2003)[5].



Featured: Makonde, Valenge; ®Swazi, ®Thonga, ®Lomwe, ®  Zanzibaris




Additional References:


  • Arnfred, S. (2005) Sex for fun and sex as serious business. Analysis and discussion of female initiation rituals in northern Mozambique. Heteronormativity - A fruitful concept? June 2. - 4. 2005, NorwegianUniversity of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  • Smyth, B. (2000) The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Southern Africa. ECPAT International, p26-38 [fulltext at]



Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Mar 2005


[1] Kruks, S. & Wisner, B. (1984) The State, the Party and the Female Peasantry in Mozambique, J Southern African Stud 11,1:106-27

[2] Child marriage briefing: Mozambique. New York: Population Council, 2004 []

[3]Arnfred, S. (1989) Notes on Gender and Modernization. Paper presented at ROAPE conference, Warwick, p3. Cited by Geisler, G. (1997) Women are women or how to please your husband: initiation ceremonies and the politics of “tradition” in southern Africa, Afr Anthropol 4,1:92-128

[4] Owen, M. (1997) The bottom line: Mozambique, Plan Parent Chall (1-2):45-7

[5] Karlyn, A. (2003) Intimacy revealed: The language and context of adolescent sexual experimentation in Maputo, Mozambique. 4th Conference of the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS) ‘Sex and Secrecy’