Human Rights & Democracy

EU works to end child marriage and FGM in Tanzania

21/11/2017 - 00:00
News stories

The EU works to defend and promote human rights around the world. Fighting genital mutilation and child marriage is an important aspect of this work, to ensure girls' rights and also to promote their equal opportunities and ability to contribute to the development of their communities and countries. The EU's work with local leaders and NGOs in Tanzania is an example of this work.

FGM, human rights, women's rights, girls' rights, Tanzania, EU, Plan International

The EU is working with local leaders and NGOs in Tanzania to protect girls from early marriage and genital mutilation. Together with Plan International Tanzania and Child Dignity Forum (CDF), the EU supports trainings and workshops which bring together village leaders, school children, religious leaders and local authorities to bring about change.

Tarime and traditional taboos:

Tarime is one of the districts with a special police region for police administration area, due to the defensive nature of the communities living at the area. The majority of communities around are from the Kurya tribe.

The Kurya tribe has many traditional taboos which are much respected.  One of them is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). A girl cannot become a woman without going undergoing FGM. She cannot get married, be heard or interact as a full woman of the community is she has not undergone the practice.

FGM Project:

The European Union in Tanzania is supporting a project combating FGM and child marriage at Tarime district managed by Plan International Tanzania in collaboration with Child Dignity Forum (CDF). Many workshops have been conducted to educate people about the effect of FGM on girls. Various groups such as village leaders, community readers, school children, teachers, adolescent groups, sports teams, religious leaders and the central committee for 13 local tribes have been reached. Training have very positive results as now many people are aware of the effect and they are changing their behavior.

Local leaders:

Mwita Nyasibora chairs Tarime's central committee, representing 13 local tribes. He attended workshops and awareness meetings which resulted in a positive change in mindset, and a commitment to combat harmful taboos. Mr. Nyasibora is a well respected person around his community and Tarime at large.

Thanks to his influence, the local leaders have accepted to end FGM and instead mark the transition from childhood to adulthood with a ritual whereby flour is applied to the girls' faces.  The celebration remains in most aspects unchanged, with the presentation of gifts, but there is no cutting of girls. 

“We need support from the government and police to allow us to introduce this everywhere in our community”; said Mr. Nyasibora. "People now are attending churches and mosques where they meet with religious leaders who are also against FGM. I am sure the FGM will be abolished," he said.

Vocational training for incisors:         

Loisi James was a traditional practitioner of FGM, performing the cuts on girls. Loisi and other "incisors" were paid between TZS 10,000-20,000 per head (~USD 5-10) for their work.

Tanzania, FGM, human rights, women's rights, girls' rights, mutilation, EU, EEAS, Plan international

“When they introduced the idea of abolishing FGM I was totally confused” Loisi said. "At the beginning it was difficult to cope with the situation because I was thinking of how to survive." Thanks to vocational training as part of the EU supported programme, Loisi and her former colleagues now work in different jobs.