Social Cultural Norms Associated with Early Marriages among Adolescents: Case Study of Chadiza District, Eastern Province of Zambia

Charity Daka

Department of Gender Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zambia, Zambia.

Roy Kalinda

Department of Gender Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zambia, Zambia.

Kusanthan Thankain *

Department of Gender Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zambia, Zambia.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Zambia is ranked 16th among countries with the highest rate of child marriage in the world. According to some studies conducted, child marriage rates in the country stand at 42 per cent of women aged between 20 and 24 years married by the attainment of the age of 18 years old. The main objective of this study was to investigate social cultural norms associated with sexuality and child marriages among adolescents in Chadiza district, Eastern province of Zambia. The mixed method design both quantitative and qualitative was used because it provides the researcher with a more comprehensive view of the phenomena being studied in this case, social cultural norms associated with sexuality and child marriages. A Systematic sampling technique was used where every third household was selected for inclusion in the study sample and 150 respondents from which 100 girls and 50 boys were selected by applying a fixed interval. The study findings indicated that most cultural practices in the study area especially initiation ceremonies provoked a girl child to opt for an early sexual debut and early marriage. On the age at first sexual debut, results showed that the minimum age to engage in sexual intercourse by the respondents was 12 years while the maximum age was 22 years for both genders. The study further unearthed the reality that girls’ initiation ceremonies exposed most girls to risk behaviours. After graduating from initiation ceremonies girls wanted to experiment whether they were really sexually able to handle any man since that is what they were taught in their initiation ceremonies a situation which led to early sexual debut among young girls and subsequently to early or teenage pregnancies and early marriages. The study recommends that the Zambian government through the responsible Ministry should regulate initiation ceremonies that pass on bad cultural practices to the adolescents and girls in particular. While appreciating the role initiation ceremonies play in preparing the adolescents for adult responsibilities, there is need to restructure the curriculum for initiation ceremonies to include sexual reproductive health rights and responsibilities.

Keywords: Social Cultural norms, sexual debut, child marriage, initiation adolescents

How to Cite

Daka , C., Kalinda , R., & Thankain , K. (2023). Social Cultural Norms Associated with Early Marriages among Adolescents: Case Study of Chadiza District, Eastern Province of Zambia. International STD Research & Reviews, 12(2), 8–19.


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