By Louis Kolumbia L
At least 4,148 girls were saved from undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) in Serengeti District in Mara Region in 2016. According to a recent Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) report, cases of FGM in the country have dropped by 5 per cent.
Launched on Wednesday, the report shows that the girls saved from undergoing FGM were equivalent to 74 per cent of 5,621 girls planned for it in the year and 1,473 girls did undergo FGM.
FGM practice violates girls and women's rights that is why it is a criminal offence under Tanzania's legislation. Launching the report, LHRC researcher Paul Mikongoti said the girls were saved following collective efforts by the police, the government and other stakeholders, who launched special a campaign against FGM and saw 32 people arrested and charged in the district. "Although the government in 2016 reported a 5 per cent decrease in FGM cases, the situation could be different as FGM is done in secrecy," he said.
He noted that girls in Serengeti, Tarime and Rorya districts in Mara Region continued undergoing FGM although the report indicated that Tanzania was on the right track in reducing the incidence and protecting girls from FGM.
According to the LHRC report, 82 per cent of women interviewed in the 2015/16 Tanzania Demographic Survey believe that FGM is against their religion and 84 per cent others wished the practice to be discontinued.
Therefore, human rights activists recommend that the police and courts of law should speed up investigation and prosecution of people involved in violence against children, including the FGM.
"Civil society organisations and the Social Welfare Department within local governments should increase public awareness on violence against children and encourage community members to report such cases to the relevant authorities to arrest perpetrators and bring them to justice," reads part of the report. FGM is a big problem in Africa, with the World Health Organisation estimating that three million undergo it annually. Tanzania has the prevalence of 15 per cent from 2004 to mid-2015.
Meanwhile, the report cites child pregnancy and marriage as main contributory factors in school dropouts for girl students. A LHRC biannual human rights report shows that 2 out of 5 girls are forced into marriage before attaining the age stipulated in the Marriage Act of 1971.
The report cites a recent report by the UN Population Fund, which ranks Tanzania the first in East Africa on child pregnancy prevalence and the third in Africa.
Published on All Africa's website on May 7, 2017.
By HELEN COLLIS
Medical staff working in England’s National Health Service recorded close to 5,500 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in 2016, but no one has been successfully prosecuted since the practice was banned over 30 years ago.
FGM is a procedure where the genitals of young girls are deliberately cut, injured or changed for cultural, religious and social reasons. It has been illegal in the U.K. since 1985 and is classified as child abuse.
In a report out Tuesday, NHS Digital said it found 1,268 newly recorded cases from October to December last year, compared with 1,240 in the previous quarter.
There were over 16,000 attendances at NHS hospitals and GP practices in 2016 relating to FGM.
Among the cases, 96 percent of women were aged 17 or younger when FGM was carried out, but almost all (98 percent) were 18 or over when their FGM case was recorded.
Many families often take their daughters abroad to be cut. In 2003, the government expanded the law to make it a criminal offense for U.K. nationals or permanent residents to take their child abroad for FGM.
Since October 2015, it has been mandatory for health care professionals to alert authorities to the illegal practice.
“The figures are astonishing. While clear progress is being made at identifying FGM in a health setting, far more must be done in schools to raise awareness of the practice and help teachers flag children at risk,” said Liberal Democrat Shadow Equalities Secretary Lorely Burt.
She called on the government to “redouble efforts” to tackle this crime.
This article was published on Politico's website on March 7, 2017.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.