Alternative rite of passage saves 115 girls from Female Genital Mutilation in Tanzania

During the just concluded cutting season of the Kuria community in Northern Tanzania, 115 girls have been saved from undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Instead of being subjected to the traditional cutting ceremony of the Kuria, they attended a training camp organised by the Association of Termination of Female Genital Mutilation (ATGM), partner of Terre des Hommes Netherlands. The 115 girls underwent an alternative rite of passage during their graduation ceremony end of December 2015.

Child abuse / Child marriages

FGM has been deeply rooted in the traditions of the Kuria community. The FGM ceremonies traditionally take place in December. According to the Kuria traditional beliefs, every girl has to undergo the ceremony, to make her a fully accepted adult member of the Kuria society. Once cut, a girl is considered to be ready for marriage, which is also the moment when she is taken out of school.

Implications of Female Genital Mutilation

Apart from the many direct short and long term health implications (such as excessive bleeding, psychological trauma and life long damage, which for instance causes difficulty with giving birth due to scar tissue), the forced end to the girls’ education is harming their prospects for an economically stable and independent future. Moreover, child marriage exposes girls to the risks of early pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Alternative rite of passage

The movement to terminate this harmful practice started from within the Kuria community itself, when concerned parents brought their girls to the church in 2008 in order to prevent them from being cut. The sisters at the church however decided not to keep these girls in hiding, but instead openly offer them a safe space where they would attend life skills training to make them more resilient. The training camp followed by the graduation ceremony became an alternative rite of passage, which is being accepted by an increasing number of the Kuria community. In addition to organising the training camps in direct support of girls at risk, ATFGM also focuses on creating awareness within the community. In regular meetings with traditional elders, community groups and government, ATFGM emphasises the health risks of FGM, the right to bodily integrity and the importance of education.

2,118 girls saved

Since their start in 2008, the ATFGM training camps have benefitted 2,118 girls who have been prevented from undergoing FGM. ATFGM’s office is located in a former traditional cutting centre, which was donated by the community, to be used for the benefit of their children’s education.

Share this:

Related news