The Citizen (Tanzania)
November 5, 2012
Elders unrelenting on FGM
By Anthony Mayunga
Serengeti. Elders in Mara Region have embarked on a campaign to convince boys to boycott circumcision as a protest against global condemnation of female genital mutilation (FGM) whose season starts in December.
The elders believe that their move to prevent boys from getting the cut will evoke anger among practitioners who will react by enforcing a revival of both types of the cut (female and male) and pretend it is an order from ancestors to cleanse the community, failure of which will lead to punitive measures. [Imagine if it were to backfire, and genital cutting simply ended!]
A survey by The Citizen in Serengeti, Tarime and Rorya districts found that campaigns for the revival of FGM appealed to clan elders and most of them would gladly support the practice.
"Some of the boys have threatened to boycott the initiation rite unless girls are also involved. They claim that during initiation boys and girls walk together as couples, a situation they believe makes the process colourful," said one of the anti-FGM parents who preferred anonymity.
The source said there were conflicting groups of elders who differed on FGM in the region. While some groups support the practice, a majority joined the government and NGOs to vehemently condemn it. The government condemned FGM which violates the Child Act enacted in 2009 and the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act (SOSPA 1998).
Kalamu Hussein, one of the educators advocating against gender-based violence under the Christian Church of Tanzania (CCT) at Kisumwa Ward in Rorya, said he feared that genital mutilation would be widely practised in several districts, especially in the area.
"Some of them perform initiation during the night to avoid law enforcers," said Mr Hussein on the practitioners.For her part, the coordinator of a project launched to fight gender-based violence in Serengeti District, Ms Sophia Mchomvu, said the campaign to revive FGM persuaded several elders who had initially denounced circumcision to reverse their attitude.
"FGM campaigners target elders who have vowed before government officials that they will support it to eradicate the harmful practice," she added.
[So female genital cutting is gender-based violence, but male genital cutting is not?]