27 October 2013

Tanzania: Stronger Fight Against FGM Necessary - Activists

Photo: IRIN
A group of women has been arrested by Tanzanian police for conducting Female Genital Mutilation.

Tanga — STAKE holders in the fight against the longstanding custom of FGM have urged opponents of the heinous practice to collaborate more with the government to eliminate the obnoxious out-dated custom in Tanzania region, the tradition's home for ages.

Tanga Inter-African Committee (TIAC) Ms Imelda Hyera gave the advice here yesterday by the while explaining the state of FGM to journalists.

She said Tanga is one of the regions in the country which has a big number of women undergoing female circumcision and that 25 per cent of the women has been affected by the vice.

Ms Hyera, however, said that the statistics was from a demographic survey conducted ten years back. The statistics, she said, meant that today the situation would be even worse due to intermarriage and a bigger population following the immigration of people in Tanga Region.

She said her organization had already conducted seminars and sensitization programmes in rural areas especially in Tanga and Mkinga districts, targeting youths both out and in school and community members generally.

She said so far about 10,000 students and 6,620 community members had been trained to create awareness on the whole issue of FGM and how to combat it.

"These are peer educators, we have trained them so that they can disseminate education about FGM to community in their respective areas and through them we have succeeded to reach many remote area communities... but this is not an easy task.

We need collaboration from both stake holders and the government to serve the community, especially, women who are mostly affected by the vice," Ms Imelda said.

She, however, said that despite the intensive training they conducted, yet the problem was still going on secretly because the circumcisers had devised another means of committing their evil actions by 'cutting' infants just after delivery.

"You know, in Tanga we have no record of cases in court related to this situation. However, that doesn't mean that there is no such problem in the region.

Still, I see there has not been much efforts in curbing the vice... people see it as harmless, but the truth is that the practice is harmful though its consequence is not often reported," she noted.

She added that the time was high for the government to collaborate with stake holders especially non- government organizations, which have been involved in combating FGM in the community, in order to free women from these harmful practices.

TIAC, sponsored by the Rafael group of Germany, has been fighting FGM in Tanga Region since 2000 by disseminating education and establishing development projects to the community as an alternative source of income for FGM circumcisers, a move that has influenced 12 of them (circumcisers) to quit the practice.

Most circumcisers used the practice as a source of income, but the established alternative sources of income was a good tact TIAC has applied to dissuade them from practising the practice.

However, the practices still continues in the region because the alternative measure was not attractive enough to all female circumcisers.

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