“I was in grave danger and almost dying.” These are the powerful words of Mary Laiza from Arusha Region in Tanzania who had female genital mutilation (FGM) when she was 14 years old. She survived and now campaigns against this brutal practice.
It is estimated that 7.9 million women and girls in Tanzania have undergone FGM (UNICEF, 2013). New research for 28 Too Many’s report “Country Profile: FGM in Tanzania” shows that there has been good progress against FGM in some areas of Tanzania but there are still very strong challenges to eradicating FGM.
The estimated overall prevalence of FGM in girls and women (15-49 years) is 14.6% which has not changed since 2004 (DHS). However, as with other African countries that practise FGM, there are significant regional variations in prevalence. Worryingly, of the nine regions with the highest prevalence, four have seen an increase from 2004 to 2010.
“New evidence from our research shows girls are having FGM at a younger age – with those cut before age one year increasing from 28.4% to 31.7% in 2010, with FGM often done in secret,” comments Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, Executive Director of 28 Too Many. “A change in the law has brought fear of prosecution and is driving the practice underground. Another reason for FGM being practised includes the belief that a bacterial infection ‘lawalawa’ is cured by FGM (which only took hold after laws against FGM were introduced); this belief is still much in evidence and needs addressing through teaching and retraining.”
28 Too Many’s research will help those working against FGM and supporting vulnerable girls and women in Tanzania and diaspora communities. “FGM a very dangerous practice to my fellow girls and women in Tanzania; it is so painful and can even result in death. Girls and women who undergo this practice lose their self-esteem and can feel unworthy in the society,” says Consoler Wilbert, a survivor of child abuse and sexual violence who founded New Hope for Girls, a project in Dar es Salaam, which works with vulnerable teenage girls. “This is why I support the work of Ann-Marie Wilson and 28 Too Many. We need this research to raise awareness and help to create the new generation with no FGM. It is possible and will happen when we all get involved and work together towards achieving this goal.”
Download the Country Profile
Notes to the editor:
Highlights from the Report
Additional Notes on FGM in the Tanzanian Community in the UK - According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) mapping exercise in 2009, is difficult to put a figure on the exact number of Tanzanian nationals living in the UK but community organisations estimate that there are over 100,000, of whom roughly 75% are thought to be living in the London area. The UK national Census for 2001 recorded over 32,635 Tanzanians in the UK.