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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Female circumcision prevention post abolished by government

March 30, 2011
The Guardian
Rachel Williams

The [British] government has abolished the only Whitehall post devoted to work preventing women and girls from the UK being subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).

Campaigners said the loss of the FGM co-ordinator will undermine efforts to eradicate the practice. Some 24,000 girls among FGM-practising minority ethnic communities in Britain are estimated to be at risk of the procedure, in which part or all of their genitalia is cut off and stitched up without anaesthetic.

The news comes a month after the government launched guidelines to help frontline workers in health, education and social services identify and prevent FGM, and pledged its commitment to ending the practice.

But charities say that without a central government co-ordinator, crucial efforts to raise awareness among professionals on a local level, where the issue is often still not understood, could be seriously hampered. Some girls are "cut" in the UK, while others may be taken abroad in the summer holidays.

"This is a real step backwards," said Diana Nammi, director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation. "We feel it speaks about a real lack of commitment from the government and a marginalisation of this hugely important issue The new guidelines were an important step forward but efforts are now needed to ensure that they are actually read and acted on, and the government should also be working to change attitudes towards FGM within communities.

"Without a dedicated person in government to drive efforts forward, it's hard to see how this will happen. The coordinator was a link between all the organisations working in this area and now that's been lost."

She added: "We were hoping to see another post created to tackle honour killings, so we were shocked to see the one for FGM being taken away instead.

"This is only one person's salary. It's not a lot amount of money for the government but it has a huge effect within the community."

The Home Office would not comment on the funding for the role, held by Alan Webster. Responsibility for work on FGM will now be shared between officials in the Home Office, Department of Health, Foreign Office and Department for Education as part of their other duties.

Naana Otoo-Oyortey, the executive director of campaigning group Forward, said: "The government has failed to commit in terms of targets, financial resources and a strong strategic direction on FGM.

"This is made worse by their failure to ensure effective coordination of the only government action on FGM, which is the implementation of the multi-agency guidelines on FGM."

When the guidelines were launched, Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat minister for equalities, said: "I have seen first hand the effect this abhorrent crime can have on women and girls. This government is determined to put an end to it."

She wrote on her blog: "One of the challenges we face in putting an end to this practice is the lack of knowledge about how to recognise the signs and what to do when you do recognise the signs."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The work of the FGM coordinator will not end. Rather, it will continue to be carried forward by individual departments where we believe it will be better integrated.

"Female genital mutilation is a brutal act of child abuse, a clear form of violence against women and we remain absolutely committed to eradicating this practice.

"As part of our cross-government programme to prevent and tackle FGM, we have established a forum to support community engagement work to challenge FGM and published new guidelines to raise awareness of this issue with all professionals."

Monday, March 28, 2011

How a Senegalese village stopped female genital mutilation

March 18, 2011
George Esunge Fominyen

KEUR SIMBARA, Senegal (TrustLaw)--It is has been 13 years since the people of this little village, 76km from Dakar, stopped female genital mutilation (FGM) and they are not only proud of their decision but they are championing the cause of renouncing the practice across Senegal.

“You see those children over there – none of them has been cut,” said Dossou Konate, a mother of six, proudly pointing at a group of girls sitting on a mat, near a stack of hay in her courtyard.

Like the 28 communities in Africa and the Middle-East where the U.N Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 3 million girls are cut yearly, Keur Simbara used to practice FGM, also known as female circumcision that involves removing external parts of a girl's genitals and sometimes narrowing the vaginal opening.

The tradition was so strong that when women from other villages where FGM was not practised married men in this village they were considered impure until they were circumcised, Konate said.

But that changed after the villagers participated in a community empowerment programme that involved adult literacy as well as training in human, political and health rights.

The health module taught them to identify the health risks, including bleeding, HIV, tetanus and difficulty in childbirth,which their girls were facing with the continued practise of FGM.

“We realised that we had to review this tradition,” Konate said.

Presently, Demba Diawara, the chief of Keur Simbara, leads a team of four campaigners who have succeeded in convincing the people of 347 villages in Senegal to abandon the ancient tradition.

“Honestly, it is not an easy task for a village chief – a custodian of our traditions- to be at the forefront of explaining why people have to abandon a rite which we inherited from our ancestors,” Diawara told TrustLaw.

“But what do we have heads for if we can’t use our brains to think? If we can think about the usefulness of something and think about how we can move on, all else becomes easy,” he said.

The villagers of Keur Simbara did use their heads. They analysed the practice and concluded that it did not have to be maintained--but that was after several months of discussion and debate that involved the wider community from neighbouring villages which also held the same traditions.

In the end, they jointly decided to abandon FGM. Diawara and his team , which includes his son, Konate and another woman who used to perform the cutting, have used the same principle in other villages, although usually it is not without challenges.

“Sometimes we are insulted and chased out of villages, but we still go back three or four times if necessary. We tell them that if we have come to talk to them about excision (FGM) it is not because we lack respect for their traditions or we are disrespectful of their person. Then people start listening and we proceed,” said Konate.

Senegal passed a law forbidding FGM in 1999 but the practice continues in parts of the country and will only stop when communities themselves choose to do so, based on their understanding of the merits of such a decision, groups advocating for a rights-based approach have said.

“It is their decision and their decision alone without anybody patronising them,” said Rose Diop, the community mobilisation officer for Tostan Senegal, the organisation that has been promoting the community-based approach that proved successful in Keur Simbara.

More than 4,000 villages in Senegal have abandoned FGM since 1997 with the support of Tostan, which has also recorded success in neighbouring Mauritania and the Gambia. Their approach also encourages in abandonment to be done in clusters – whereby groups of villages and not just individuals decide to end the practice.

For example, it would have been difficult for women from Keur Simbara to marry in their wider ethnic communities if the others were still practising FGM, Diop said.

“We tell villages that still practise excision (FGM) that we were doing the same thing (but) we thought deeply about its consequences and stopped. Now we would like them to think about those consequences for their daughters too,” said Konate.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

African elders ban female circumcision

March 15, 2011

Village officials in the West African countries of Senegal and Mali have decided to place an official ban on the practice of female circumcision.

The elders of the villages have also promised to end the forced arranged marriage of children within their communities.

Representatives from nearly 90 villages in the two countries held a ceremony in eastern Senegal at which they agreed to ban the practice.

Ali Ba of the NGO Tostan, which aims to empower African communities, said that the ceremony represented the abandonment of excision and the early and forced marriages of girls.

About 1,500 people from 70 Senegalese villages and 19 Malian villages showed up for the ceremony.

The name Tostan means 'breakthrough' in the West African Wolof language.

The villages affected by the pledge to end female circumcision belong for the most part to Mande-speaking communities, meaning that most of them share thousands of years of cultural legacy, including that of the ancient West African Mali, Ghana, and Songhai empires.

The practice of female circumcision is widespread throughout Mande-speaking regions of Africa, affecting up to three million girls who undergo the procedure every year.

Ba said that the recent declaration had brought the NGO's tally up to 4,751 communities which had pledged to end female circumcision.

He said that Muslim clerics in Senegal and Mali had been involved in promulgating new standards of awareness about female circumcision.

Kalidou Sy, the national coordinator of Tostan, said that the NGO held ceremonies in the presence of regional leadership, in order to promote its message.

The Senegalese government banned female circumcision in 1999, but many communities have not heeded government regulations.

When a Senegalese community seeks to circumcise a girl, it does so in secret, or brings the girl to a neighbouring country where the practice is still lawful.

Some 40 villages had previously participated in the Tostan Community Empowerment Program (CEP), a 30-month programme that aims to educate people about human rights, health, and literacy.

A group of community leaders from the villages said they believed it was necessary to create Tostan centers in all Senegalese villages and continue awareness raising discussions so that everyone could abandon female genital mutilation.

Female genital mutilation, female circumcision or female genital cutting refers to "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons," according to the World Health Organisation.

Traditionally carried out by an older woman in the community with scant medical training, the practice rarely involves the use of antiseptic or anaesthetic.

Knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass and razor blades have been documented as instruments, with herbs or iodine used to stop the bleeding.

Friday, March 11, 2011

KENYA: Lawyers ask Men to Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation

March 10, 2011
Women News Network
Kenya Correspondent, Gitonga Njeru

Pokot District, Kenya: Human rights lawyers are asking Kenyan men to be a stronger part of the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM), which despite being illegal in Kenya, is still widely practiced by some communities.

One of the communities that has not yet abandoned FGM is Kenya’s Pokot community. Unfortunately in the district, many men in the region, and throughout Africa, still encourage circumcisers to continue the practice.

Most Pokot men place value and usually demand that a woman must be circumcised in order to marry, but there are some growing exceptions to this rule.

“I was circumcised as a little girl and I managed to get a husband,” says Selina Lorupe, a 43 year old mother of 2 children. “Many women in my Pokot community continue to be circumcised. It is part of our culture but other women are slowly resisting this move,” she highlights.

Numbers from The Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization, a group that fights for the rights of women in Africa, estimate that 500 young Pokot girls and women were circumcised, in only one month, last December 2009, alone.

Despite FGM being rampant among the Pokot, advocacy groups are working hard to educate local women about the health dangers associated with the practice. But society pressures sometimes outweigh education. Advocates have noticed some improvements through their campaigns, but improvements over the past years have been backsliding.

More Pokot men are now marrying women outside their communities, from places such as the Kikuyu, Meru, and Kuria, where the practice of FGM – female genital mutilation – remains intact.
Kenyan human right lawyers suggest this undermines the fight to discourage FGM, making it even more difficult to eradicate...

To continue reading the full article click here

New Dutch campaign against female circumcision

March 10, 2011
Radio Netherlands Worldwide

A Declaration against Female Circumcision is the latest weapon to help migrant parents prevent their daughters from undergoing the procedure. With the document in hand they can show their relatives in their home countries that the female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM) is illegal in the Netherlands.

The Dutch health service (GGD) believes there are around 25,000 girls in the Netherlands at risk of FGM. The procedure is unnecessary, extremely painful and dangerous, say the health authorities. The trick is to bring the subject out into the open. Parents should be made to feel able to discuss why they want their daughters circumcised, says paediatrician Dr Feuth.

“We are trying to enter into a dialogue with parents and to inform them about the risks. The procedure itself can cause infection or serious loss of blood. Girls can even die as a result. The health service also informs parents about the social and psychological consequences for the child and about how she experiences sex later in life.”


Most victims of FGM come from Africa. Although people in African countries do realise that it is genital mutilation and can be risky, many African migrants continue the practice.

As it is banned in the Netherlands, most girls are circumcised during holidays to their country of origin. Five years ago, 32-year-old Fatima Diallo from Guinea took her five-year-old daughter back home with her. Her circumcision was brought up almost immediately.

“My sister-in-law wanted to do it herself. I said: ‘Don’t touch her. Don’t touch my child. It is not going to happen.’ Then she told me, ‘It happened to your grandmother, your mother and your sister. Why shouldn’t it happen to you? Why?"

Change in mentality

"Sometimes parents do it because of their faith, sometimes they have different motives", says Somalian Zahra Naleie, of the Federation of Somalian Associations in the Netherlands, which has been campaigning against female genital mutilation for years.

“In Sierra Leone, they say it’s tradition. In Somalia and Sudan they say it’s to do with Islam. But more often than not it’s a cultural practice which people perpetuate.”

Naleie thinks banning the practice is not enough. Raising awareness should lead to a change in mentality. Female genital mutilation is taboo, even within families.

Official document

This is not the first attempt by the Netherlands to draw attention to FGM. Since 2009, migrant parents can sign a similar document at child health clinics. The main difference this time is that the document carries a stamp from the ministries of health and justice.

Ms Naleie thinks the declaration does make an impression when parents have to defend their decision to relatives: “It is an official government document, signed by two ministries. Real proof. My mother can show the family during my holiday that it’s illegal in the Netherlands.”

The declaration is translated into various languages so that relatives can read it themselves. Parents from countries where female circumcision is common practice are given a copy of the declaration when their child is born.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Intensive efforts reap progress towards ending female genital mutilation in Somalia

March 7, 2011
Iman Morooka

HARGEISA, northwest Somalia “Somaliland”: “It is a shame and a disgrace if a girl is uncut. She will be outcast and ostracized from her community”. This is what Ubah Abdillahi believed until she was convinced otherwise by the community education programme aiming to end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Somalia.

Ubah Abdillahi, mother of 5 girls and 3 boys, lives in Daami village in Hargeisa. She came to know about a programme run by NGO TOSTAN- supported by UNICEF- aiming to create community awareness around various issues including FGM/C, child rights, hygiene and sanitation, environment and health among others. She started to attend classes offered by the programme and participated in its activities.

“Before participating in this programme, I believed that all girls have to be cut, just like I was cut when I was a young girl. I cut my daughters because I always believed it was good for protecting girls from men. If the girl is not cut, she can’t get married either. This was done to me by my mother and I did the same to two of my five daughters.” said Ms. Abdullahi.

She recalled the pain she had to go through as a child when she had undergone the procedure. “I still remember how I cried of pain, and the problems I faced in urinating and menstruating. When I was giving birth they had to make cuts even sideways for the baby to come out. There are many problems but I didn’t question it [FGM] because it is our culture and tradition.”

According to the most recent statistics (MICS 2006)*, FGM in Somalia is almost universal. 98 per cent of women aged 15-49 have undergone the procedure, with 77 per cent of them subjected to the most severe form.

“I wouldn’t have been able to socialize and have friends if I wasn’t cut. It was considered a disgrace and people would gossip if a nurse wasn’t called to the house for opening the stitching after a woman gets married or for child birth.”

TOSTAN started its community advocacy work in Daami village in 2006 and formed the “Community Management Committee” which played a key role in engaging in discussions with the community and creating awareness on the harms of FGM. After three years of the programme’s inception, the people of Daami village publically declared abandonment of the practice. Ms. Abdullahi was one of the Committee members who were trained by TOSTAN.

“It took me time to understand and accept that circumcision is not good for girls. Even when I joined the programme in TOSTAN, I didn’t commit myself to anything at first. I was just learning about all sorts of things, then I came to realize that FGM is the cause of many health issues like infections. It was explained to me how girls who are not cut don’t have the same health problems during menstruation, intercourse and child birth. I also learned that not all Muslim women are circumcised. I started to believe that it is better not to have my girls cut.”

Ms. Abdullahi became an advocate who spoke out in and outside of her village urging people not to subject their girls to FGM.

Over a year has passed since Daami community declared abandoning FGM in 2009, but the Committee members are still active in their advocacy work. They meet regularly at the classroom provided by TOSTAN to discuss and exchange their experiences and plan joint activities within and outside their village, including writing and performing songs and plays.

So far, a total of 84 communities have been mobilized through this programme in Somalia. Of them, 28 communities including Daami village declared collective abandonment of FGM.

“It [the advocacy work] is not always easy, some people are accepting while others are not.” said Ms. Abdullahi. “I sometimes even have to resolve conflicts between couples, when the husband is opposing to FGM while the wife is still insisting to cut her daughters. I believe that education is very important for people to understand the harms of FGM, and perhaps the fact that men are better educated in our society, makes them more capable of opposing traditional practice.”

For a long time it’s been considered a taboo to discuss a sensitive subject like FGM in public. However change is gradually starting to happen in Somali communities. Ubah Abdullahi is just one of many mothers who have joined the fight against FGM.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nothing less than zero tolerance to FGM

February 8, 2011
Daily Nation
Faiza Jama Mohamed

Last weekend, the world commemorated the eighth International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Every year three million women and girls in Africa continue to be at risk of undergoing FGM.

Just a few decades ago, not just African nations, but even international agencies and human rights organisations were reluctant to address FGM because of misgivings that it was a cultural right.

It took the hard work of African women’s rights activists to clarify to the world that FGM is in fact a form of violence against women and girls perpetuated in the name of religious/cultural identity.

As a result, several human rights bodies today condemn FGM as a human rights violation and The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa explicitly calls for the legal prohibition of FGM. Eighteen of 28 African countries have outlawed FGM.

However, it is sadly not yet time to pat ourselves on the back. All across Africa, FGM continues to be openly practised by communities with flagrant disregard for the law.

Ten African countries where FGM is practised still don’t even criminalise it and the FGM prevalence rate shockingly continues to be around 90 per cent in too many African countries.

We hear of retaliation against anti-FGM activists, journalists, and local police who investigate cases in many countries.

The average age of girls subjected to FGM is getting lower across the continent and it is becoming increasingly common for medical facilities and professionals to offer FGM.

The reality surrounding us is grim and we need more than just rhetoric about ending FGM from political leaders and nation states alike.

As the saying goes “it takes two to tango”, and taking on the indomitable task of ending FGM clearly cannot be the sole responsibility of anti-FGM advocates.

Governments have an equal if not bigger part to play. African governments need to take several urgent steps to end FGM.

First, they must criminalise the practice and commit to protect each and every girl. This commitment must be echoed in government agencies including law enforcement, justice system, education and health departments.
Second, owing to the sheer scale of the problem, governments must dedicate increased resources for implementation of anti-FGM laws.

Third, they must tailor-make plans of action suitable for the particularly unique circumstances under which FGM is performed in each community.

For instance, if mass-mutilation in pockets of high risk areas during the holiday season is a recurring theme in a country, there should be a temporary increase in the number of police forces there.

Governments must work with civil society to conduct awareness-raising on the harmful effects of FGM and relevant laws through the use of community radio and local media.

An effective strategy could involve the creation of temporary shelters for girls fleeing FGM during the holidays and reaching out to schools to let girls know about such facilities.

Similarly, effective strategies to counter the medicalisation of FGM in some countries could involve police undercover operations to identify doctors and facilities that perform FGM.

All that activists are calling for from governments is compelling political will to protect every one of our girls from FGM.

African traditional practices: Progress has been made, but not yet enough

February 6, 2011
The Observer
Efua Dorkenoo

"Zero tolerance," a phrase first used in the 1970s in the US, is "a form of policing that allows no crime… to be overlooked." It is a way of "applying the strict and uncompromising letter of the law." Today, the world will celebrate the eighth anniversary of the international day of zero tolerance to FGM (a harmful traditional practice which involves the partial or total removal of female genitalia, undergone by more than 100million girls and women worldwide).

The clarion call to African nations not to tolerate one more mutilation of a girl was first made on 6 February 2003 by the late Stella Obasanjo, former first lady of Nigeria, during a conference organised by the inter-African committee on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children (IAC) – a regional network of African women activists working to eliminate FGM. Subsequently, 6 February was adopted by the United Nations as the international day of zero tolerance to FGM.

Since the 1970s, African women's rights activists have led the ambitious task of eliminating FGM. In their quest for justice they have have attempted to educate not just small villages but entire nations, engaging with heads of states, regional bodies, global human rights activists and international agencies challenging any misgivings that FGM could be a cultural right.

Undoubtedly as a result of these unyielding efforts, we have witnessed a seismic shift in global policy on FGM. Today there is less tolerance and wider recognition that it is a grave human rights abuse against women and girls which denies them their basic rights to health, bodily integrity, and sometimes even life.

But "lesser" tolerance to FGM will simply not do. When the national prevalence rate of the practice shockingly continues to be around 90% in countries like Djibouti, Egypt, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone and Somalia; when 10 African countries still have not yet criminalised FGM; and when communities continue to defiantly practise FGM in the open in countries that have laws banning the practice, we have a considerable problem on our hands. In 2010 alone we witnessed several disturbing incidents related to FGM that signalled not only a lack of progress but even regression in some cases.

In Uganda's Bukwo and Kapchorwa districts, elders prepared to mutilate more than 200 girls during the traditional December holiday season last year, despite repeated reports that there is reduction of FGM due to community engagement and education. Mass mutilations continue to be carried out in this region every alternate year.

Unfazed by Uganda's 2010 anti-FGM law, Sabiny elders proudly proclaimed to the media that they would carry on with mutilations of girls. Far from signalling "zero tolerance" for FGM, the vice-chancellor of Bukwo district, John Chelangat, was quoted as saying, "This is a very sensitive period and no politician will talk about abolishing FGM because we shall lose votes. Myself, I will not talk about FGM because I know this will land me in the political dustbin." While two circumcisors and one mentor were arrested for subjecting five girls to FGM, the fear is that many more girls may have been mutilated in the holiday season.

Unfortunately, the mass mutilation of girls during the recent December season was not unique to Uganda alone. Similar incidents were reported in Kenya's Kuria county, Marakwet, Eldoret and other locations where activists also feared that, in spite of the 2001 children's act in Kenya outlawing FGM, it was performed in medical facilities across these districts. Reports from Tanzania's Tarime district estimated that more than 5,000 girls were at risk of undergoing FGM last December and although it has been more than 12 years since Tanzania prohibited FGM, the police are still reluctant to arrest and prosecute perpetrators. As a result only a handful of cases have reached the courts in recent years.

Apart from the indefensible and shocking general lack of political will to end FGM, another worrying trend is the lack of support given to and backlash faced by anti-FGM activists. In October 2010, Gambian anti-FGM activists Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang-Sissoho were arrested for allegedly embezzling funds despite an earlier investigation that cleared them of such allegations and were released on bail only after considerable international pressure.

It is crucial that we don't lose ground but build on the decades of hard work of anti-FGM activists in curtailing the practice across Africa. This 6 February it is time that governments finally take proud ownership of the concept of zero tolerance for FGM. As recent incidents have clearly indicated, we need more concerted efforts from politicians, law enforcement and the justice system to end the practice.

Since mass mutilation in pockets of high-risk areas during the holiday season is a recurring theme in many countries, we will need planned interventions well ahead of each December. Law enforcement must employ creative strategies such as undercover investigations of medical facilities which provide FGM and temporarily increase the concentration of police forces in high-risk areas.

Governments must allocate additional resources to increase transportation for law enforcement, raise awareness among girls, make ample shelter arrangements for girls fleeing FGM, use community radio and local media to warn practising communities that FGM will not be tolerated, publicise arrests and prosecutions and equip courts to handle cases efficiently. Zero tolerance for FGM can become a reality only if all appropriate sectors of government and civil society prioritise the protection of women and girls from FGM and coordinate their efforts in a proactive, sustained and planned manner.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Maasai join anti-FGM campaign

March 7, 2011
The Citizen
Paskal Mbunga

Mkinga. Circumcision and excision are two ancient traditions which have been practiced globally for centuries. In Tanzania, the later is on the verge of eradication despite the presence of a few tribes that still cherish it. According to medical practitioners, circumcision has proved to be the safest prevention to health hazards in regards to sexual transmitted diseases.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the applied name of the excision that has been common in the central and northern regions. Due to its harm to the victims, the practice has encountered wide protests worldwide. Activists, humanitarian groups and non-governmental organizations worldwide are now at war to eradicate it. Despite efforts to put to light the disastrous effects of the tradition, there are few tribes that refuse to let the FGM die.
Medical officers say wounds inflicted after excision never get healed completely, for when the girl delivers the wounds open afresh and hence making her bleed profusely. According to tribal communities engaged in the practice, excision is believed to reduces sexual desire.

The team of journalists who visited the Maaasai community at Horohoro , reportedly a hardcore in preserving their traditional values, including excision. Salome Sinjore, 45, a married mother of four admitted to have undergone the traditional ritual when aged 18, an age bigger than was usual because of schooling. “Had I not been enrolled in primary school, the excision on me would have been performed earlier, perhaps even at 10 years of age,” she said. She said that immediately after completing primary education, she underwent the traditional ritual and got married. Salome disclosed that excision accompanies a lot of agony with untold pains including bleeding. “It is a Maasai woman pride, a sign of being ready to be married and join the elderly group – a most respected cadre among the Maasai community,” she revealed. For the parents, Salome said, it gives them twice fold advantages. They are going to receive dowry, ranging from four to six cows. “It raises your respect in the community that you have a daughter who has fulfilled the traditional ritual, but also you are elevated to the elderly group,” she explained.

Theresia Salome (60), a Maasai elder and practitioner (ngariba) from Sarage village, is now against the role she had played for the past 15 years before giving up the profession four years back. Apart from denying that the practice is still on the increase, Theresia acknowledged that the practice had brought more harm than pride to the both parties. She narrated how on several occasions her customers had fallen unconsciousness after she had administered the operation. She said”. The operation is done without the use of anaethesia. The victim is therefore subjected to untold pains including blood poisoning, hemorrhage and tetanus risks. “However, no girl ever died under my supervision in the ritual. But I can admit there were cases of girls fainting after heavy breeding,” she said. Theresia who inherited the profession from her mother, told The Citizen after being sensitized on the harm of the ritual practice, she had abandoned it.

Another practitioner (ngariba) who testified that she had abandoned the profession once and for good is a 55-year old Salome Luka who resides at Sarage,a border village, She said the FGM has been a celebrated ritual among the Maasai for centuries ago. She explained that the tribal culture has deep roots in the Maasai community that no body could ever believe that one day they would be willing to abandon the tradition. “It is unbelievable that the vice is being eliminated though slowly” She said and added, “We the Maasai have a record of preserving our traditional values. But to this ritual, we say good-bye to it and thank our government for its campaign against FGM.

Another practitioner who decided to down his tools is Maria Selemani (56) who also resides in Sarage village. She had been in the practice for ten years. She said it was the government through various NGOs that helped to end the harmful practice. She paid much tribute to the Tanga based NGO against FGM, the Tanga Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practiceas Affecting the Health of Women and Children (TIAC). She said, it was TIAC through its numerous seminars and workshops staged in Mkinga district that sensitized the Maasai and other few tribes still glued to the tradition. She remembers on one occasion four years ago, TIAC educated practitioners in Mkinga District on the effects of FGM practices. “The workshop opened our ears and eyes,” recalls Maria.

However, some Maasai elders interviewed, admitted that excision is a by-gone ritual and should be abandoned once and forever. Thomas Napaiya (63) a member of a village council in Perani village in Mwakijembe division said though the Maasai are hard to abandon their traditional values, they now understand that some of the traditional customs are outdated and needed to be scrapped. “Excision should be on the top list to be discouraged”, said Thomas who is also a church elder in his area.

Michael Joseph,64, was of a different opinion when he told reporters that the century-long ritual should prevail because it depicts the Maasai cultural tradition. Said Michael”, You know having both of your children, perhaps a girl who has undergone excision or a circumcised boy, you earn that respect of entering the group of elders, a highly respected one by the Maasai community.

While the Maasai have esteemed respect to age group, the Morani have their respect from those beneath them. In the family, older ones enjoy distinguished respect among themselves. Horohoro border village leaders, Makame Kassim Mbwana, the chairman and Ali Mohamed Ngare, the secretary said the tradition is on the verge of elimination.