Alternative rite of passage saves 350 girls from FGM in Tanzania

by Amref Health Africa

ABOUT 350 girls aged between five and 18 have completed training on alternative rite of passage in Maasai community. Alternative rite of passage is a new invention aimed at ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the society.

The training is aimed at ensuring that community maintains good traditions and abandons harmful cultural practices such as FGM.

It is touted by NGOs and international donors as an alternative to female initiation into womanhood, but without female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/FGC). AMREF Integrated Alternative Rites of Passage (ARP) and Water, Sanitation Hygiene (ARP-WASH) Project Manager, Dr Aisha Byanaku said that in some communities the rite of passage involves female mutilation which marks transition into adulthood where girls can be married.

Dr Byanaku was speaking when closing a three-day training to girls and parents on alternative rite of passage in Kang’ata Village, Handeni District in Tanga region.

“This is a two-year project whose implementation commenced in July 2020, and expected to be completed in May 2022,” she said.

To date, the ARP-WASH project has reached and empowered 700 girls aged between five and 18. She noted that this year the project has successful helped 350 girls who passed through the rite of passage without undergoing FGM.

Dr Byanaku further noted that, since the beginning of the project in July 2020, the project has managed to provide training on effects of FGM to 70 circumcisers commonly known as “Ngaribas” and 40 community counsellors.

The project is being implemented in eight wards of Handeni District Council, which are Kwamatuku, Sindeni, Misima, Kiva, Kang’ata, Mkata, Komkonga and Kwaluguru. She said the project has also helped to raise awareness about reproductive health to Ngariba and girls who were lined up for FGM, especially on health effects of the practice.

Gloria Nassoro was among the participants of the training who had undergone FGM at the age of 19 who narrated her ordeal. “I was 19 years old when I underwent FGM, it was painful, and I was subjected to severe bleeding, I did no it like the practice but I had nothing to do because my parents forced me because the practice was a pride to them,” she said.

“FGM is not good, it is very painful … I will not try it on my daughter, and I do not want her to go through what I went through.” she added

This article was first published on Daily News Tanzania.

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