AT least 450 Maasai girls in Handeni district, Tanga region have been saved from undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM).
According to Amref Health Africa Tanzania, which runs the “Stop FGM-Elimisha” project in the area, they aim at eliminating the practice by providing education to the residents on the side effect of the exercise.
“A total of 450 young girls graduated to womanhood through the Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP), which retains the cultural celebration of a girl’s transition to womanhood without undergoing the ‘cut’ and early/ forced marriage,” said Dr Aisha Byanaku- Project Manager for Amref health in Africa.
She further said the goal of the project is to eliminate FGM practice among young girls and women in Handeni and introduce an alternative rite of passage at the family/household models that embrace all their traditional and ritual teachings.
“As Maasai community, we are against FGM and we will be good ambassadors in ending it. I have read the Bible and no single verse promotes FGM,” said Joseph Moseka, a Pastor at the Mennonite Church in Handeni District.
One of the women who used to engage in the cut exercise, Maria Simba said the education provided by the experts has changed her mind and attitude on the matter.
“The practice (FGM) do cause unbearable pain to young girls, some may die due to excessive bleeding. Also, surviving girls do get married at a young age instead of going to school, I have decided to stop this practice after learning its side effects,” she said.
Commenting, Handeni District Commissioner, Toba Nguvila said the government will keep on intervening and with time eliminate the practice in the area.
Article first published on dailynews.co.tz