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When alternative rite of passage saves girls

by | Jan 9, 2016 | Daughters of Charity, News

Modern girls (Waisekewakisasa) take oath after receiving training on alternative rite of passage at ATFGM Masanga centre in Tarime District recently. (Photo by Mugini Jacob)

Modern girls (Waisekewakisasa) take oath after receiving training on alternative rite of passage at ATFGM Masanga centre in Tarime District recently. (Photo by Mugini Jacob)

The Tanzania News reports on the role of the Daughters of Charity with girls undergoing an alternative rite of passage instead of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in which they receive a new name. They are now called waiseke wa kisasa in Kiswahili and Kikurya which means modern girls.

The number of waiseke wa kisasa has significantly increased over the past seven years, thanks to the alternative rite of passage training. The training programme is conducted by the Association of Termination of Female Genital Mutilation (ATFGM) Masanga with the support of various partners. The programme was established in 2008 by Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in collaboration with Bishop Michael Msongazila of the Musoma Diocese of Roman Catholic Church.

Since then, ATFGM Masanga has been offering training on the alternative rite of passage to hundreds of girls during the times when Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is carried out, hence, saving them from undergoing the damage. The progamme is targeting schools and school girls from all 13 clans of Kurya tribe that still consider FGM as an important part of the culture.

The good news is that some parents are now allowing their girls to camp at ATFGM Masanga centre to receive the training after realising that FGM is a harmful culture. “We are providing the training in December every year when FGM are conducted in Tarime,” said Mr Dickson Joseph, the Secretary of the ATFGM Masanga Centre.

So far 2,118 girls of different ages have benefited from the training between 2008 and 2015, according to ATFGM Masanga’s latest report made available to the ‘Daily News’ recently. The name modern girls are expected to inspire many other girls to forego the outdated procedure which exposes young girls to humiliation and severe pains during the cutting and after.

Authorities in the Mara Region and other gender based violence activists are seeing the ATFGM Masanga centre as a huge assistance in saving girls from the agony of FGM. Former South African First Lady, Ms. Graca Machel visited ATFGM Masanga centre last year and congratulated all the girls who are rejecting FGM and described them as heroes who are determined to bring positive change in the region. “I would like to thank these girls who have accepted to be the first generation of on-going alternative rite of passage. You are first generation making a history,” Ms. Machel said when she was addressing a huge public rally at Masanga village.

The presence of the ATFGM Masanga has further created an opportunity for girls of Kurya community to raise their voices against not only FGM but other Gender Based Violence acts. For example, the latest group of girls who camped at ATFGM Masanga centre late last year appealed for protection against forced FGM and any other GBV acts during their graduation ceremony on December 29.

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Tags: Tanzania

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