Tanzanian girls return home after fleeing to avoid fgm

15th Jan 2015 At least eight hundred Tanzanian schoolgirls who escaped to safety to avoid being genitally mutilated or circumcised returned home on Monday, three months after they fled to charity organizations, shelters and church organizations. Female genital mutilation was banned in Tanzania in 1998 with a punishment of up to fifteen years prison time, but many communities in the central and northern regions still carry out the operations regularly.

According to the World health organization, more than one hundred and twenty five million women have been circumcised or mutilated in twenty nine countries in Africa and the Middle East. The organization condemns the practice as a “violation of the human rights” of women, with the UN chief Ban Ki-moon launching a global campaign to end female genital mutilation within a generation in November last year.

The school girls fled to shelters which are open to all who seek protection during the months the exercise is traditionally carried out, from October to December. Some of the shelters are given police protection by the government and other social service bodies, for the safety of the girls. Some of the girls returning home explained that the safe houses were the only places they could go to ensure that they don’t end up victims of the barbaric act.

The dangers of genital mutilation, apart from the excruciating pain, include bleeding and infection, and maybe infertility and childbirth complications in the future.

One of the young girls said “My mother supported me, she did not want me to be cut, but my father began to beat me so I decided to come here,”

Tanzania’s minister of Labor and Employment Gaudensia Kabaka has called on traditional leaders to use their influence to stop “this retrograde practice.”

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