The Chewa Heritage Foundation (Chefo) has advised chiefs to discourage chitengwa, saying it is worsening domestic violence against women and children.
Chefo’s namkungwi (counsellor) for Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, Dorothy Kasinja, said this during meetings in Dowa, Mchinji, Dedza and Salima districts.
Chitengwa is a marriage practice where a woman lives at her husband’s home as opposed to chikamwini where the man settles at the woman’s home.
Kasinja said chitengwa is not part of Chewa culture and has been recorded as one of the factors contributing to gender-based violence among the Chewa.
“When marriages break up or husbands die, wives and children are ordered to go back to their home of origin.
“But when the women goes back to their parents with their children, they find no house to live in and no land to cultivate,” she said.
Mpenu Magistrate’s Court senior clerk Henry Chimtengo said his office is overwhelmed with cases of women forced out of their husbands’ homes.
“I appeal to all Chewa chiefs to opt for chikamwini because men live at their spouses’ home.
“Worse still, men defy court orders to construct matrimonial homes for their wives whenever the court annuls their marriage,” he said.
Evangelical Association of Malawi gender justice project coordinator the Reverend Timothy Zimba said the project has discovered that women and children face domestic violence especially after tobacco sales.
The meetings were organised with funding from Norwegian Church Aid.