Social Welfare, Gender and Children minister Margareth Sitta has said that the number of female genital mutilation (FGM) cases in the country has decreased by 5 per cent.

The minister’s remarks were contained in a statement read on her behalf by the ministry`s director of Children Affairs, Mohamedi Ali, at a function to commemorate the African Child Day in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

According to the minister, FGM cases in the country had decreased over the last three years.

“A research carried out in 2004/5 by various gender activists in the country shows that FGM cases have decreased to 13 per cent from the previous 18. This is a great achievement,” she said.

She said there were indications that the public had now been gaining awareness and understanding on the importance of stopping the practice.

“Although there has been a sense of understanding which is now on the increase, much is needed to be done by both the government and other stakeholders working in the field in changing people`s attitude through which the war against FGM can be won,” she pointed out.

She outlined bad tribal approaches among a few of the country`s tribes as the main cause of unmet goals in eliminating FGM.

“We know that this will soon be a thing of the past. We need to excel and put more efforts in changing people`s attitudes,” she added.

The minister appealed to parents to provide their children with better education by sending them to school, as doing so they would be investing in the future lives of their children.

“Be close to your children in order for you to effectively help them,” she stressed.

Speaking at the same occasion, director of the Dar es Salaam-based Pond Spring Primary School Betha Mkwali called on parents to know and understand their responsibilities and importance of safeguarding their children from all sorts of harm.

“There are examples of children who died due to misunderstandings between parents and others who lost their lives due to negligence and poor childcare by their parents.

Their deaths could be stopped if all parents provided the required care for their children,” she said.

She added that, as an institution, her school had decided to assist orphans and needy children in the country.

“Already there are more than twelve children who have been assisted in studying at the school free of charge. We are thinking of increasing the number,” noted Mkwali.

The day was observed at the national level in Dar es Salaam.

Author: Njonanje Samwel

Source: – 17 June 2008