East Africa: Cross-Border FGM Slashes Gains Against Unkind 'Cut'

As the world marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on February 6, Tanzania was grappling with incidences of girls crossing into Kenya to get the 'cut'.

Speaking in Dar Es Salaam, Valeria Felix, the manager of the anti-FGM civil societies, said cross-border FGM is on the rise, and accounts for 60 per cent of all 'cuts'.

"Currently there is no harmonisation of laws on how to deal with female circumcisers who cross the Kenya-Tanzania borders to 'cut' girls and women," said Ms Felix.

She said that factors contributing to cross-border FGM include shared traditions among border communities, fear of arrest in their own countries, lack of proximity to circumcisers in their own communities and the absence of strong regional monitoring systems.

Unicef says in its latest analysis that over four million girls around the world are at risk of being cut in 2020. That is despite the reduction of FGM worldwide.

"Since three decades ago, at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM in 31 countries, and 68 million girls are at risk by 2030," Unicef said in a statement.

Jacqueline Mahon, the representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Tanzania, said the race is on with only 10 years remaining to achieve the UN target of zero FGM.

She added that despite the national prevalence decline of FGM at 10 per cent, the region with the highest prevalence of FGM in Tanzania is Manyara at 57.7 per cent of girls aged 15 to women of 49 years, and Mara, which is located near the border with Kenya.

Other regions with high prevalence are Dodoma (46.7 per cent), Arusha (41 per cent) and Singida (30 per cent), according to data by UNFPA Tanzania.

In December, UNFPA and Unicef supported a meeting to end cross-border FGM attended by representatives from the governments of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia.

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