Today, rights activists in Tanzania join their counterparts across the world to mark the 14th International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. The occasion is relevant to Tanzania, because the backward practice is still rife in parts of the country, years after it was made illegal.
The female cut, as FGM is at times called, unlike the male cut, is carried out without any medical reason, hence the term "genital mutilation". The idea is to lay emphasis to the truth about it: it is nothing but one of the various bad cultural practices that dehumanise women.
Global surveys show that at least three million girls are at risk of being subjected to the cruel, useless practice annually. It is for this reason the UNFPA, jointly with Unicef, is at the head of global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM.
In Tanzania, Manyara is the most notorious region with a 2010 survey showing that 70.8 per cent of its female population were made to undergo the cut. In Arusha, the percentage at the same period was 58.6. Other areas that the practice takes place include Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Iringa, Singida, Tanga, Morogoro and Coast Region.
In some of our communities, women who haven't undergone the cut are treated as outcasts, for the process is considered part of rite of passage from girlhood to woman. Those who miss the cut are ostracised and declared unsuitable for marriage.
The fact is that FGM is dangerous. Cases of girls dying from excessive bleeding after the crude surgery have been reported. In adulthood, circumcised women have to contend with minimised enjoyment of sex and complications while giving birth.
As the world marks the Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, we in Tanzania must all support effort to end the practice--in total. The main weapon, we must underscore, is consistent and aggressive awareness campaigns.
EAC PARTNERS MUST PAY UP
The financial crisis facing the East African Community (EAC) has refused to go away, apparently. Member states--Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan--are have not yet settled their outstanding contributions for the remaining months of the current financial year.
Sources within the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) revealed during the recent session in Kampala that the unpaid contributions now stand at a combined total of $28.3 million out of $41.8 million they are required to remit during the 2016/17 financial year. Concerns are growing over the crisis, which is directly linked to partner states' delays to honour their commitments, due to the two underlying reasons: the welfare of the EAC employees is increasingly becoming uncertain due to delays in their monthly salaries and the fact that some important joint programmes and projects are likely to be stalled.
Eala Speaker Daniel Kidega reminded partner states recently to remit their contributions to the budget on time to enable the regional body to implement its projects and programmes.
We support Mr Kidega's appeal. The only way out of the EAC cash crisis is for partner states to remit their contributions timely. We would like to urge our government and others to honour their commitments in order to keep the wheels of the regional bloc rolling.