AN ambitious anti-child marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigns funded by European Union (EU) through Plan International has been intensified in 15 rural villages of Tarime District in Mara Region.
And, current Mara Regional Commissioner Adam Malima now vows to ensure that the region is free from gender violence, citing incidences of women beatings as other acts that should not be left to continue in the area.
The campaigns conducted recently through football tournaments, among other means, are expected to save several hundred girls from the agony of FGM as well as keeping them in school instead of starting families and other interferences occasioned by early marriages.
The campaigns also target their awareness events at young men and boys, often key partners in child marriages, teenage pregnancies and FGM in the villages where communities still deny the girl child access to education.
"... Sports events are very powerful tools that bring youths together ... so we use football tournaments to tell them to focus on educating girls and do away with child marriages and FGM," the Project Coordinator from Plan International, Mr Shaban Shaban, told 'Daily News' in Tarime on Thursday.
"This approach proved to be very useful ... we succeeded in bringing many young men and boys who are key stakeholders in the battle against teenage pregnancies, FGM and child marriages. We urged them not to engage on sexual affairs with school girls ... whom they often entice with small gifts," Mr Shaban said.
The two-week campaigns were held alongside events commemorating the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence in these areas - citing five wards home to 15 villages which benefited from the campaigns as Komaswa, Pemba, Mbogi, Binagi and Regicheri.
Plan International has since teamed up with Children's Dignity Forum (CDF), a local NGO established to combat child marriages, FGM and teenage pregnancies in Tarime district under an ambitious project that is funded by the EU.
More than 800 girls were in December 2016 subjected to the harmful practice of FGM in some villages of Tarime, where local and international partners are working together with the authorities in Tarime to stop FGM practices in the district.
Besides subjecting girls to humiliation and severe pain during and after the cut, FGM is also illegal, according to the laws of the land. A few weeks ago, the Tarime Rorya Regional Police Commander (RPC), Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP) Henry Mwaibambe, urged traditional leaders of Kurya tribe to stop FGM practices.
"Let us stop this outdated culture ... it may have been valued in the past, not now. Let's all cooperate in ending FGM," the RPC said at a crucial meeting also organized by Plan International as part of its anti-FGM and child marriage campaigns in the region. The meeting brought together top traditional elders from all 13 clans of Kurya tribe and members of the Tarime inter-faith committee.