Thank you to everyone who has engaged in the debate on zokoka. This is the most feedback I have ever received…obviously this is a very contentious issue. Below I share a few emails that I received. My favourite two statements are “I will never koka, I am perfect the way I am” from Lusungu and “I wonder (why) only women are forced to do this and that on issues of sex” from Gray……yes a man! (please note most of the names are pseudonyms):
I am not a fan of your column, but I am 100 percent with you and as a young man from Kasungu, though it is not a Chewa tradition, I hate when I engage myself to this type of girls. Honestly speaking, sex is sex and I can prove that modern girls with no zokoka can feel nice. Edgar
I thought I was the only one who is disgusted by the act and the way the vaginas turn out after that. I am a health worker who was previously working in labour ward and believe me, there was never a day I came to understand or appreciate the look of the female genitalia after they had done pulling. I pray more women put an end to this. It is like women are the only ones that are supposed to please. I discovered that the risks are:
1. When you are swabbing the genitalia to conduct a vaginal examination, the cleaning isn’t really well done compared to the ones without the big labias thus being prone to infections.
2. Most women with zokoka, when they have had a tear that goes through the labia, it becomes hard to suture (surgical stitch) them perfectly, thus doctors usually face problems to properly do so and at times they are not done well that later results into deformities to the genitalia.
I strongly feel that there is a need to conduct a study on this kukoka thing. If women are really comfortable or do it for the sake of culture, because seriously, its torture and abuse of women’s rights. Nurse G
This practice disgusts me and I thought I was the only one! It’s really high time we started speaking up against this if it is to ever end. Young girls are told lies and end up doing it for fear that if they didn’t do it they will experience problems when delivering a baby. They are rarely told that they should do it for their husband’s sexual pleasure, which is what it is all about.
Women don’t do it for themselves. They do it for men and to think that they have to go through such pain just for another’s pleasure really shows how sick the whole practice is! —Ellen
What I can say is that these so called elders think newly-weds don’t know anything regarding sex. I think in this new world of technology i.e. internet, young people already know or have seen the picture. The problem with men is that if they experience a strange thing in a girl, especially sensitive areas, they will tell others who in turn will be coaxed. —Felix
I would like to agree with you that the practice of kukoka among the women is bad and has to be denounced in strongest terms. As a married man, I don’t differentiate a woman who has pulled her vagina to the one who has not; hence, the practice promotes gender inequality and gender discrimination as stated in your column. I wonder why only women are forced to do this and that on isues of sex. Although there is this issue of male circumcision which reduces the risk of HIV/Aids sikukomezedwa chifukwa ikukhuza amuna. Akazinso ndi anthu apatsidwe ufulu. —Gray
My argument has always been why? Why should I do it? It seems to have more disadvantages than advantages and what if my husband doesn’t like them? What a waste of time then. I have always had pressure to “koka”, I have been told all sorts of stories…and I was given some black vaseline like paste before…to use…to the extent that I tried to only to get a rash…! I will never koka, I am perfect the way I am…there is more to relationships than to “koka” I hate it because what a lot of daughters are told is that they should satisfy their husbands in the bedroom. They forget that there is more to relationships other than sex…if couples cant communicate, the sex will definitely be boring…sex comes at the end of the line when it comes to healthy relationships.
I love it I love it…I agree with you 100 percent…women should focus more on building relationships in these marriage counselling sessions other than “kukoka”.—Lusungu.