MINISTRY of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children has welcomed alternative rite of passage that has saved nearly 3,000 girls from undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Mara Region.
The Ministry's Permanent Secretary (PS), Dr John Jungu said Tarime based Association of Termination of Female Genital Mutilation (ATFGM) Masanga Centre initiated alternative rite of passage has shown positive results in the fight against FGM in the region.
Speaking here over the weekend during the ATFGM's 11th graduation ceremony for girls attending training on alternative rite of passage, the PS said the initiative is setting a good example on the best tackling of FGM.
He said the training on alternative rite of passage had proved that it is possible to sustain good morals in the communities without subjecting girls to FGM. "The government congratulates ATFGM Masanga Centre and its partners, including regional and district governments for the efforts you are doing to eradicate FGM and other violent acts against children and women," said Dr Jungu who officiated at the event that involved 486 girls.
The girls camped at ATFGM Masanga Centre in December last year when the latest FGM season was held in various parts of the region. ATFGM Masanga appealed for protection of what they now call modern girls against forced FGM upon returning home despite that the season is over.
Some girls escaped to ATFGM Masanga Centre after discovering that they were at high risk of being forced to undergo the harmful culture. "We ask the government to ensure that these modern girls are not subjected to FGM and they are given right of proceeding with education," ATFGM Masanga Secretary Baraka Joseph said.
So far Masanga Centre has saved 2,957 girls from undergoing the cut since 2008, thanks to all partners that fund the initiative. Dr Jungu noted that the government, in collaboration with various development partners, is beefing up campaigns against FGM and other Gender Based Violence (GBV), with the aim of ending the acts by 2022.
ATFGM Board Chairperson Gaudensia Kabaka said investing in girl's education is also imperative in eliminating FGM in the region. "This culture (FGM) appears to be still strong in the hearts of people but educating children will be helpful," Ms Kabaka who is also the current Chairperson of the ruling CCM's women Wing (UWT) said.
Ms Kabaka who served as minister in various ministries during the fourth phase government said ATFGM Masanga Centre had been established at the right location which is surrounded by communities that still embrace FGM as an important culture. ATFGM Masanga is run by Sisters of Roman Catholic Church under the Diocese of Musoma. Sr. Stella Mgaya is currently the Centre's Director.