Gender Activists Urged To Penetrate To Rural Tanzania

Posted on | maart 19, 2012 | No Comments

Gender activists in Tanzania have been urged to penetrate to rural areas where there are a lot of violations of human rights in various forms.
The call was made on Tuesday March 20, 2012 by Francis Selasini who is the executive coordinator for the network against female genital mutilation (NAFGEM), which is based in Moshi Kilimanjaro region. He was speaking shortly after his organization had received a grant worthy US$ 46,996 from the Japanese Government in a function that was held at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania Masaki Okada.

He narrated how difficult it was to arrest women who are engaged in women circumcision popularly known as ‘ngariba’ in Kiswahili. “This is a culture which is deeply rooted in some ethnic groups in Tanzania, so people tend to take it as a normal practice,” he commented.

He elaborated that recently his organization in collaboration with the Police Force managed to tail activities of one woman who looked like a much respected person, only to find that she has been conducting such activities for more than 15 years. It was very difficult to pin this woman because unfortunately she is a disabled person, a situation which would have just attracted sympathy to her.

Selasini added further that FGM and many other forms of gender based violence (GBV) could only be eradicated if education is extended to dwellers in rural areas constantly and if monitoring is conducted regularly. He added that currently the main problem is that many gender and human rights activists are concentrated in urban areas leaving the rural areas to very few NGOs like his.

He thanked efforts by some volunteers and legal institutions like the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), for their constant intervention but asked other organizations particularly religious bodies to forward strong messages against GBV, matrimonial violence and other forms of malpractice like FGM.
He challenged the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to arrange ways to conduct awareness training in areas which have been identified as hot spots in violation of human rights against women and children, but also the media to address this problem more seriously.

He revealed that women and children in remote areas are living in extreme poverty due to limited opportunities for education, economic empowerment and other social services. It is unfortunate in these communities a girl child is expected to marry and bring wealth to the family. To her the only respectable opportunity she has is to get married and before that she has to undergo FGM to make her valuable in the society.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), has been an agenda of activists in many parts in Tanzania where it has been enshrined, however there have been deliberate actions to counter these activists including intimidations from perpetrators of these immoral acts.

“FGM is brutally conducted without any medical justification; the cutting often done by elderly women is performed without anesthesia causing severe pain, excessive blood loss, wound infection and other lifelong complications. Further the increasing number of women with fistula is directly linked to difficult or prolonged deliveries caused by the scar formed after genital cutting,” he added.

Elaborating further Selasini said that the financial support from the Japanese people will help in a strong training programme that is meant to create awareness to parents, girls and other stakeholders in a bid to protect more women and girls from having their human rights abused which is characteristic of many African families.

On his side Ambassador Okada said that his Government decided to assist financially this network including its centre of Lekrimuni after realizing that in some Africa families the women are subjected to treatment which is retrogressive and could contribute to abject poverty if there are no intervention measures.

According to Selasini, with this financial assistance the centre is expected to provide children with pre-school studies, being sensitized against FGM and other harmful traditional practices, being constantly monitored and prevented from parents’ temptation to put them through FGM and marrying them off.
So far the following areas have been identified as being notorious in FGM in Tanzania – Dodoma, Singida, Tarime, Simanjiro and Siha among the Maasai communities. But in essence forced marriages exist in many pastoral communities whereby girls are seen as sources of income through cows which are obtained in the form of dowry.

Other projects that were sponsored by the Japanese Government included the Rungwe District Council for the expansion of Katumba 11 Primary School for the Disabled which received US$ 112,092. Another beneficiary is the Registered Trustees of Share and Care Foundation for the construction of orphan’s hostels at Kakora Primary School in Kwimba District, Mwanza Region US$79.054.

The grant was also extended to Buza Primary School for improvement of Safety and Sanitation at Buza Primary School in Temeke Municipality, Dar es Salam Region US$111, 095.

AUTHOR: Elias Mhegera
E-MAIL: mhegeraelias [at]


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