16 December 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday 16 December 2013
Over 400 girls from the age of nine up to fifteen in the Mara region of Tanzania have sought refuge from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) this December as a result of the FGM season which has been announced by Kurya traditional elders in the district. 5,000 girls in the district of Tarime alone are estimated to be at risk of FGM over this season.
Terrified girls have fled from their homes to seek refuge at the Masanga Centre – a primary school which is converted into a support centre for girls and young women, run by the local Catholic nuns. FORWARD has supported this centre through our local partner in Tanzania the Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF) since 2010. The centre offers an alternative rite of passage which does not involve cutting and offers shelter, food, training and psychosocial support. Many of the girls, who have sought refuge, have done so with parental support. Since 2008 over 1000 girls have sought refuge in this centre and each year the numbers increase. But not all of these girls will be able to return home for fear of being forced into FGM by their families.
Koshuma Mtengeti the Executive Director of CDF notes that: “This year, we have had an unprecedented number of girls running from this grave human rights violation and we are not able to meet the high cost of feeding these girls till the end of December. The community awareness activities are yielding results. Many of these girls have done so with the support of their parents. This shows that there is rising opposition to FGM in this region of Tanzania. At this time, we need the support of our local Government and the police to help protect these girls.”
A UNICEF report released in July 2013 on the global prevalence of FGM, indicated that 7. 9 million women and girls in Tanzania are affected by FGM. However, FGM is endemic in many parts of Tanzania and seems to be on in the increase in Mara Region as a result of the entrenched traditional norms which are enforced by the traditional elders and pressure from community members.
Speaking on the situation in Tarime district in Tanzania, FORWARD’s Executive Director, Naana Otoo–Oyortey MBE said: “FGM has been illegal in Tanzania since 1998 and the government has developed an action plan on FGM. However, this in mainly on paper and there is little effort to implement the law by the Tanzanian Government. As a result millions of girls are still at risk of FGM. In 2012 the local government and police Gender Taskforce was very proactive but this year, elections are round the corner and as such there is little appetite to antagonize the traditional leaders.”
Today FORWARD will be delivering a letter to the High Commissioner of Tanzania in London calling on the Tanzanian Government to take action. The UK government has taken global leadership in supporting international efforts to end FGM and have allocated 35million to support efforts in Africa. What is urgently needed now to protect girls in Tanzania from FGM is strong government commitment to implement existing laws on FGM and to set up and resource structures including child protection teams at district level and to hold traditional leaders accountable to protect the rights of girls and women in their local areas.
FGM comprises all procedures that involve the injury, partial or total removal of the female genitals for non-medical reasons.
|Press Release- 400 GIRLS IN NORTHERN TANZANIA SEEK REFUGE AS THOUSANDS FACE FGM 16-12-13 web version.docx (.docx 20.5 KB)|