19 December 2012

Tanzania: More Campaigns Against FGM Needed in Tarime

COMMUNITY Development, Gender and Children Ministry admitted that Female Genital Mutual (FGM) is still a big problem in the Northern Tarime District pledging to strengthen anti-FGM campaign in the area.

The Ministry will now put in place an effective strategy to fight FGM in Tarime district with education on the effects of the malpractice targeting young girls, traditional elders, parents as well as FGM conductors getting top priority.

"After visiting various villages of Tarime I have to admit that FGM is still a big problem and it has deep roots based on the traditions. We must develop strategies to end the practice," Deputy Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children Ms Ummy Mwalimu said after concluding her four- day working tour in the district yesterday.

The minister arrived in Tarime late last week and spearheaded anti- FGM campaign in various rural villages. Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Pereila Silima joined her on Monday to give boost to the campaign . " Among other things we have also agreed with my colleague ( Mr Silima) to establish more police force gender desks in every division of Tarime instead of relying on police gender desk based at the district level", she said.

The expected anti-FGM strategy will also involve key stakeholders including traditional leaders and elders, local NGO's, Tarime district council, and female circumcisers just to mention a few, she said.

"FGM also seems to be part of income for female circumcisers (ng'ariba) and part of the income goes to traditional leaders. So we need to find alternative source of income for this people too", Ms Ummy further stated.

The tour of the Deputy Ministers came at time when FGM season has started in various parts of the district this month. Over 300 young girls mostly from schools have in the recent days camped at Tarime based Masanga FGM centre which is owned and run by Roman Catholic Church on fear that they might be forced to be mutilated.

"I visited Masanga village where 314 girls have sought refuge after fleeing their homes. This is a big challenge that we should address," said the minister. She said her ministry will start recognizing girls who refuse to undergo FGM practice.

This was tipped to be one of the crucial anti-FGM tour to be conducted by highly senior profile government leaders in Tarime in the recent years. Authorities in Tarime and local leaders accorded the Deputy Ministers full cooperation, according to government sources.

Tarime is rated to be one of the districts in the country where FGM is still practiced. According to the reports from traditional elders, FGM has decreased significantly in the recent years as compared to 1980s when it was a compulsory practice.

Tarime traditional elders prefer increased anti- FGM education rather than using force predicting that the malpractice might become a history come year 2015. They also argue that FGM has been 'modernized' in a bid to avoid harming private parts of young girls as compared to the past.

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