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Monday, February 8, 2010

Female genital mutilation declines

February 8, 2010 By Leonard Mwakalebela - Daily News CASES of female genital mutilation (FGM) have declined in Mara, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro and Iringa regions, but rose in Singida and Arusha plus Manyara regions. The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children, Mrs Mariam Mwaffisi, said that generally the rate had declined from 18 to 15 per cent over the last 10 years. She was addressing the FGM Zero Tolerance Day held at national level in Dodoma today. The event was organized by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) on behalf of the National Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Network (NAFGEM). The Permanent Secretary noted that the rate in Mara region had declined from 44 to 38 per cent, Kilimanjaro from 37 to 25.4 per cent, Morogoro from 20 to 18 per cent and Iringa from 27 to 22.7 per cent. Mrs Mwaffisi noted further that the rate in Singida had increased from 25.4 to 43 per cent and Arusha plus Manyara regions have reached 81 per cent. According to research done by LHRC in collaboration with with NAFGEM in 2002, 18 per cent of women in the country were mutilated. ''The ministry has discovered the Penal Code Act has some shortcomings and should be reviewed to curb this problem," she said. The Permanent Secretary however said that the ministry had strategic plan (2001-2015) to eliminate the malpractice. In her message on behalf of NAFGEM, the Director of Anti Female Genital Mutilation Network (AFNET), Ms Sarah Mwaga said that Tanzania was among 28 countries in Africa which were still practicing genital mutilation. Somalia, Egypt and Gambia are taking the lead. She explained that Tanzania had no updated and correct statistics of female genital mutilation and the currently used ones were outdated and mere guess works. Ms Mwaga said that despite having the strategic plan, there was no any mechanism in place to coordinate the elimination process and that already 10 years of the plan had elapsed.