Girls as young as eight being forced to go to sex camps in Mozambique and Zambia to prepare them for child marriage
Girls are cut in punishment if they fail to perform sexual acts correctly
More than 40 per cent of girls in Mozambique and Zambia are married before they turn 18
Men in the communities 'don't want to marry girls who are uninitiated'
Girls as young as eight are being sent to sex camps in Mozambique and Zambia that are designed to prepare them for marriage by teaching them how to be good at sex.
The sordid training begins as soon as the girl begins menstruating and sometimes involves sticks being inserted inside the girls, according to child protection activists.
If girls are deemed to have performed the sexual acts incorrectly they are cut by the women in charge as punishment, according to Persilia Muianga of international aid agency World Vision.
The practice was revealed at an international conference on ending child marriage, held in the Morrocan city of Casablanca this week.
Muianga - a child protection expert - went on to explain that some mothers in the communities force their daughters to sleep with a man before they have even begun menstruating, in the belief that this can bring on menstruation earlier.
Mystery surrounds the schooling for those who have not been initiated at the camps, creating an attraction in the communities for the week-long training.
Anglican priest Jackson Jones Katete that the initiations in Zambia begin for girls between eight and 13 years old, speaking at the conference.
'You ... pay these (elderly) women to do this torturing to your child,' he said.
'Immediately the girls come out of the camp, they are saying ... you are now ready for sex. And then the men come ... and then they begin to do the betrothals.'
He added that men do not want to marry the girls unless they have been successfully initiated.
Community leaders also fine parents if they do not allow their daughter to attend the camp, which also teach girls about hygiene, domestic duties and how to conduct themselves in the community.
While these fines can ruin a family's finances in poor rural areas, the money that they receive when their daughter is married off after the camps can provide a much-needed income.
The sexual age of consent in Mozambique is 12, added Muianga, which means that many young girls put their lives at risk by having babies before their bodies are ready.