Tanzania mobilizes to stop female genital mutilation

Girls vow to reject FGM after receiving training from ATFGM Masanga on alternative rites of passage

Come December, it is expected that about 600 girls will be at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Tarime District of Mara Region in Tanzania, East Africa. Efforts to save those girls from the procedure have begun. 

The Tarime-based Association for the Termination of Female Genital Mutilation (ATFGM) Masanga is preparing to educate the girls, including on alternative rites of passage, and to provide them support.

“We are informed that the Weirege clan of Kuya tribe are planning to have FGM season by the end this year, and we are asking girls to escape to our centre (camp) or to the nearest police station whenever they see any signs of being subjected to forced FGM,”  ATFGM Projects Manager Valeria Mgani said.

Women celebrate at an anti-FGM event in Tarime district

Mgani said that girls who are at risk can also report to the village executive officers (VEOS), or call ATFGM Masanga directly for immediate help.

Tarime is one of the districts in Mara region with high cases of FGM, despite ongoing campaigns by local and international organizations to stop it. 

The association is expected to receive and save 300 girls on the Kenyan side in Migori County.

“This year will have two camps, one in Tanzania and the other one in Kenya  and we expect to receive more than 900 girls on both sides,” Mr. Mgani said.

ATFGM Masanga has this year conducted wide anti-FGM campaigns in schools in the Tarime district and Migori county in Kenya.

As a result, he said, many girls are now aware of the harmful effects of the practice, and they will say no to FGM, thanks to all partners supporting the anti-FGM education in the area. Key partners include United National Population Fund (UNFPA), Terre des Hommes and Daughters of Charity.

Activists, including children, carry placards with anti- FGM messages during an event organized by ATFGM Masanga

Since the association began the rescue centre in 2008, over 3,000 girls have been saved from undergoing FGM.

While FGM is illegal in Tanzania, some communities still consider the ritual part of their culture.

The practice subjects girls to severe pain, both during and after the cutting. And experts warn that it results in other health complications, such as fistula. FGM is also cited to be the source of early marriage and massive school dropouts among schools girls.

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