Wednesday, July 2, 2014
FGM in Tarime district continues unabated
EFFORTS by government to suppress female circumcision in the country might not succeed in Tarime district as traditional elders of the main kurya ethnic group in the district are embracing such a malpractice. The Director of a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which defends human rights in the district known by its Kiswahili acronym SHEHABITA, Bonny Mato said on Wednesday this week that, the continued act is being perpetrated by traditional elders as such an act is among the traditional ritual beliefs. He said recently in an exclusive interview that, the habit elders of embracing such acts has rendered efforts by the government and other human rights activists in their move to stop the malpractice which is commonly practiced in the district. He noted that, they have been advocating the bad effects resulting from female genital mutilation but have been disappointed by traditional elders who are not cooperative enough and seem to be reluctant to help eradicate it. “Although traditional elders in the district have succeeded to maintain peace and harmony among members of the warring Kurya clans, but have not been so active to suppress female circumcision in the district”, he said. He revealed to the Guardian that, the elders see to it that, female circumcision is an act of the traditional customs and that it’s impossible to stop it and doing so is like to break the traditional customs. He noted that, despite the government’s ban, the malpractice continues unabated an aspect that would not bring any positive change of mindset among the people including elders in the district.
However, he has advised the government to introduce formal education to address the issue among the people especially ladies in primary schools so as to let parents know the major effects resulting from female circumcision. “May be this could help change the mindset of the people the majority of whom seem to be impervious to understand what the government has been advocating” he said adding that, a joint concerted efforts is needed to end this mischief which in Tarime district is a normal phenomenon. The call by the director has come when traditional elders of the Watimbaru clan of the Kurya tribe in the district are now preparing to perform the circumcision rites of both males and females which are set for November this year. The Watimbaru clan is among the 11 Kurya clans in the district which practices initiation ceremonies of the teenagers in rotational basis in the district. During these occasions, teenagers are prepared to circumcisions rites after which marriage follows, noted Mato. A cross section of the people have called on the government to take stern measures and if possible enact the law in Parliament that would enable prosecute the perpetrators before the court of law. They made the plea while pointing an accusing finger to traditional elders whom they say are inciting the act instead of joining efforts to stop the habit. Some who were interviewed by this paper noted that, the government should form legislation in order to end female circumcision otherwise it would keep of educating people without gaining a positive result. Weisiku Wambura said that, there is no way other than forming a legislation to stop such traditional beliefs, he said adding that, this is the only way to end female genital mutilation in the country.