Ending FGM in Kilindi District, Tanga Region – A story by Dr. Jane Sempeho
Wednesday, 31 March, 2021
When we think about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Tanzania, there is a lot of concern on the effects that it has on the lives of the young girls. Many people have contributed their efforts in ending it and among them we have Dr Jane Sempeho. She deserves a tribute , due to efforts she made to fight FGM.
Dr. Sempeho is the manager at Amref Health Africa in Tanzania integrated ARP-WASH project, which is implemented in Kilindi District of Tanga Region. She works closely with Maasai communities in the movement to end FGM. Looking at the statistics the Maasai communities is among the highly affected due to its traditional beliefs and practices. Her being part of the change in Maasai community is a great success with the support from her co-worker at Amref. Among the biggest success in Kilindi area has been managing to convince Maasai elders to sign declaration to end the retrogressive practice in their communities.
FGM AS A CULTURAL PRACTICE.
Dr Jane says “Female genital Mutilation in Maasai community is a cultural practice, where girls are forced to undergo the cut as a rite of passage from girlhood to adulthood”
She added that “this is a harmful cultural practice, as the process is brutal, some girls died from excessive bleeding and many are suffering serious long-term complications for the rest of their lives”
Maasai tribe is mostly known for its preserved traditions and culture which hardly wavers from generation to generation, also a strong patriarchal system where men and especially elderly men are the sole decision makers, judges, and enforcers of discipline. They listen to their elders as they are regarded as the leaders. Although FGM is vicious practice but for Maasai it is considered as an important part of the culture and identity and thus makes it difficult for families to decide against having their daughters cut.