MORE than 100 girls have fled from various villages of Tarime and Serengeti districts in Mara Region for fear of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).
The girls are camping at a centre run by the Association of Termination of Female Genital Mutilation (ATFGM) in Masanga, Tarime District.
"We have received 103 girls, who escaped from FGM. The majority of them are from Tarime and others are from Serengeti districts," ATFGM Project Manager Valerian Mgani said on Friday.
The month of December each year is the FGM season. Tarime District Commissioner (DC) Glorious Luoga visited ATFGM Masanga Centre on Friday and warned that all FGM perpetrators would this time not be spared.
He insisted that the government would continue protecting girls from undergoing FGM and from other illegal practices. "It is our responsibility to protect these girls and any parent or guardian involved in FGM will be arrested and taken to court," Mr Luoga said during the opening of the ATFGM camp 2018 for the girls running away for fear of being forced to undergo FGM.
Several girls interviewed after arriving at the centre said they had escaped from undergoing FGM after discovering that there were plans for it. "I have seen signs of this and I was at risk of undergoing FGM.
That is why I am at the ATFGM Masanga Centre. We ask for government's intervention," one of the girls, who preferred anonymity, said. Thus, the number of girls expected to camp at the centre is likely to go up in the next few days.
FGM is illegal according to the laws of the country. Mara is one of the five regions in the country with some communities that still see FGM as an important ritual.
Although there are reports that the rate of FGM cases have declined in Tarime District following ongoing campaigns aimed at ending the harmful ritual by the government in collaboration with local and international organisations, the ritual is still practised in some parts of the region.