5 December 2012

Tanzania: Modern FGM Not Harmful, Tarime Traditional Leaders Claim

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
Campaign to protect girl child underway in Tanzania.

FEMALE Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice has been modernized to avoid harming private parts of young girls in Tarime District of Mara Region, traditional leaders have said.

"In the past, everything was being cut but it is not the case at the moment, only a small inch is removed," Mr Mwita Nyasibora, the secretary for the Butimbaru clan traditional cultures group told a crucial anti-FGM meeting here on Sunday.

"And at times, we only put marks on young girls as well as spraying them with maize meal (unga ) to symbolize that they have undergone FGM and this enables women to celebrate and dance," Mr Nyasibora said.

The secretary of the 13 clans of Kurya tribe, Mr Boniface Maremo, said female circumcision cases had decreased significantly in Northern Tarime District in the recent years, citing continued anti-FGM education and massive construction of community ward secondary schools among other things.

"FGM is now a voluntary thing and not compulsory as it was in the 1980s, for example. If we continue providing education there will be no circumcision in 2015 because people are also changing very fast," Mr Maremo said.

A total of 30 senior traditional leaders from various clans of Kurya tribe met during the meeting at a hotel in Tarime town to declare their position ahead of this forthcoming circumcision season which is due to commence this month.

There is fear that hundreds of young girls mostly school children are lined up for circumcision in various villages of Tarime this month. But the traditional leaders repeatedly insisted the use of education rather than force, saying that FGM will soon end in the area without using force as it has been the case with other harmful cultures like ear piercing.

The meeting was organized by the Children Dignity Forum (CDF), a local NGO that has been in the frontline to raise anti-FGM awareness campaigns in Tarime for several years now. The meeting was also addressed by the Tarime District Commissioner (DC), Mr John Henjewele, and attended by police officers as well as some community development officers based in the area.

"We have now understood more challenges facing this battle of FGM in Tarime. It is something with deep roots but we will continue cooperating with traditional leaders, with education getting top priority," the CDF Executive Director, Mr Koshuma Mtengeti, told the 'Daily News'.

With its headquarters in Dar es Salaam, CDF has opened an office in Tarime in a bid to intensify its campaign against FGM, child marriages and early pregnancies in the lake zone region via its ambitious programme dubbed Mobilizing Actions to Safeguard Girls' Rights.

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