18 July 2018

Tanzania: Politicians Foment FGM in Mara Region

POLITICIANS in Mara Region have been blamed for contributing to the continued practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), when seeking votes in the area.

An anti-FGM crusader from Tarime District, Ms Robi Samuel said that the politicians in the region have been entering into agreements with traditional leaders, promising to protect them as they practice FGM as a way of seeking political mileage.

"Politicians are to blame for continued FGM in the region. They use the traditional leaders as their champions in attracting voters a move that requires them (politicians) to protect the traditional leaders in the FGM practices," she said.

Ms Samuel who is the Director of Safe House Tanzania was speaking during an event that was lined up by Champions Active to end FGM.

The event was also organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The activity also saw the screening of the internationally acclaimed film titled 'In Name of Your Daughter' Ms Samuel urged the government and the rest of the anti-FGM advocates to work together and come up with a decree that would require the politicians to be in the forefront in the fight against the brutality against women and girls in the country.

She said most of the traditional leaders in Mara Region would love to stop FGM practices but due to economic constraints they resist the acts since they are earning money and other rewards so they carry out FGM.

"We have had several traditional leaders who had stopped completely but they have gone back to the practices because they miss the money and the rewards they used to earn from the people who took their daughters to them for genital mutilation," she said.

She called for economic support to the traditional leaders who are abandoning the practice in order to enable them to engage in other income generating activities to get rid of FGM practices.

Assistant Director (Family Unit) at the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Grace Mwangwa, said the government is committed to eliminate traditions and cultural beliefs that lead communities into engaging in FGM practices.

"The main challenge is the traditional norms and beliefs among the people which prompt them to engage girls and women into the violence (FGM)," she said.

She said the government has various initiatives lined up to see to it that gender-based violence including FGM is ended come 2030.

"We have initiated various plans to ensure we end the GBV. One of them is the National Forum that will be held ahead of the International Girl Child marked in October," she said.

She added that the forum will bring together government officials and stakeholders to discuss how to stop the FGM and other forms of violence against women and girls.

Speaking during the event, Deputy Representative UNFPA, Dr Hashina Begum, said that there was a need for the government and stakeholders to work together to challenge traditions and cultural beliefs that foment FGM practices.

"We will continue to support the ministry concerned to activate the national FGM task force and to ensure that laws and policies on FGM are implemented," she said.

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