According to the 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey, 15% of women aged from 15 to 49 have undergone Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in the United Republic of Tanzania. The prevalence of FGM/C, however, varies greatly by region with a reported FGM/C prevalence ranging from less than 1% in regions such as Lindi, Mtwara, Shinyanga and Kigoma to over 50% in Singida, Arusha, Dodoma and Manyara. Ethnic identity is closely associated with FGM/C in Tanzania, but there is no equivalent large-scale survey data on FGM/C prevalence by ethnic group. The 28 Too Many country profile on Tanzania and Terre des Femmes note that FGM/C is recorded among the Arusha, Barbaig, Chagga, Gogo, Hazabe, Iraqw, Kahe, Kuria, Luguru, Maasai, Nyaturu, Pare, Rangi and Sandawi peoples.
FGM/C is performed primarily by traditional practitioners in Tanzania. Terre des Femmes has found that excision (Type II) is the most common form of FGM/C in Tanzania, although the most recent national survey comparing prevalence of excision to clitoridectomy in 1996 found that the majority of women had undergone clitoridectomy (Type I). The 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey reports that 32% of women underwent FGM/C before their first birthday and 27% at thirteen or older. It is performed for a variety of stated reasons and beliefs that can vary greatly by ethnic group and region, including initiation into adulthood, marking ethnic identity, as a prerequisite to marriage and childbearing, to promote chastity, to gain respect, as a religious duty, to propitiate elders and ancestors, and to prevent or treat illnesses such as ‘lawalawa’. Members of some groups in Tanzania believe that FGM/C is equivalent or very similar to male circumcision. The 28 Too Many country profile notes that, of the regions in which FGM/C is practised, prevalence is highest in the predominantly Christian ones. According to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, 92% of Tanzanian girls and women want FGM/C to end, and 77% of women who have undergone FGM/C want to end the practice.
It is illegal to perform FGM/C on a minor under the Tanzanian 1998 Sexual Offences Special Provision Act and the 2009 Law of the Child Act. FGM of minors and adult women is prohibited under the 2003 Maputo Protocol. Furthermore, the United Republic of Tanzania acceded to the ICESCR in 1976, ratified CEDAW in 1985, the CRC in 1991 and the Banjul Charter in 1984. Successes have been made in decreasing new cases of FGM/C in Tanzania. Between the 1996 and 2010 Demographic Health Surveys, the reported national FGM/C prevalence dropped from 18% to 15% among women aged 15 to 49.
FGM Country of Origin Expert for Tanzania
Mary-Anne Decatur is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her research in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania examines the ways in which Maasai and Chagga people conceptualize the practice of FGM/C on social, cultural, historical and medical grounds. This research analyses why FGM/C has persisted in Maasai communities and examines Chagga people’s narratives of how the practice has largely ended in their own communities. Her research explores further how differing understandings of FGM/C shape predominantly Chagga NGO and healthcare employees’ strategies for ending the practice in Maasai communities and influence Maasai interpretations of these campaigns. She has additionally published and given talks on her research examining relationships between activists and members of FGM/C practising communities at a London-based NGO.
Anti-FGM Organisations in Tanzania
The Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF)
To contact CDF please use the contact form on their website
The CDF is a voluntary, private, non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit-making Civil Society children’s rights organization based in Dar es Salaam. The CDF provides a forum for dialogue and discussion on issues affecting children. It seeks to explore new and contentious issues. One of its aims is to raise awareness to the public on child rights violations, particularly child marriage and FGM/C.
Inter Africa Committee Tanzania Dodoma Chapter
Mobile: +255 754 599876
The Inter Africa Committee Tanzania Dodoma Chapter was formed in order to initiate and carry out programmes for combating traditional practices that are harmful to the society in general and to the health of women and children, in particular FGM/C. They conduct training on the negative effects of FGM/C and the urgency to prevent and abolish it in order to improve women’s and children’s health. They organize seminars and symposia that contribute with information and education to public health professionals.
Kamilika Stop FGM
Kamilika is dedicated to eradicating FGM/C and raising global awareness about gender based violence. It is contributing to the global campaign to stop FGM/C by working directly with practitioners of FGM/C and members of their communities and by providing educational sponsorships for young girls. Kamilika’s holistic approach is successfully eliminating the practice of FGM/C in villages of Northern Tanzania. Kamilika believes that FGM/C is a violation of the human rights of women and girls. They also sponsor girls at Noonkodin High School and safe house.
Network Against Female Genital Mutilation (NAFGEM)
NAFGEM Tanzania is a network of individual members working towards the elimination of FGM/C, child marriages and other forms of violence against women and the girl child. They raise awareness on FGM/C and gender based violence through sensitization and awareness creation, women’s and girls’ socio-economic empowerment and by promoting girls’ education. NAFGEM provide safe shelter services, three shelters are currently available in Moshi, Lekrimuni and Orkesmet, and facilitate services to survivors of FGM/C and gender based violence (e.g. legal and health services).
To contact WTWT please use the contact form on their website
In response to local requests WTWT are planning a healthcare project for the whole community to cover: Community Sexual Health, HIV/AIDS and FGM/C. FGM/C is a sensitive issue because it is an ancient and respected tradition which graduates a girl to womanhood and marriageability. For this reason WTWT are arranging for training to be given by Maasai people who respect these traditions, and who work creatively with the whole community to challenge them and empower them to change in a positive way together. The trainers are from SAFE Maa who have had success in many Maasai communities, with many girls now progressing to womanhood without cutting. WTWT are working towards whole community decisions to stop practicing FGM/C, whilst keeping their ceremony for the rite of passage to womanhood.