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Female Genital Mutilation December is Cutting Season

What is female genital mutilation?


In Northwest Tanzania, December is known as cutting season, female genital mutilation illegally performed on girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts.


What is female genital mutilation?


Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to all practices involving partial or complete removal of or injury to the external sexual organs of women and girls for non-medical reasons.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
distinguishes among four types of FGM
Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to all practices involving partial or complete removal of or injury to the external sexual organs of women and girls for non-medical reasons. 

The practice is generally carried out with a knife or a razor blade without anesthesia and in non-sterile conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) distinguishes among four types of FGM:

FGM Type I
Partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce.

FGM Type II
Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora.

FGM Type III
Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris.

FGM Type IV
All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Female genital mutilation safe house in Tanzania


Rhobi Samwelly whose own experience inspired her to set up the safe house funded by the Anglican Church and supported by other churches together with the local mosque.

Around 134 girls to find refuge at the safe house in Mugumu in the Mara Region of Tanzania during the six-week-long cutting season, that traditionally occurs every two years in Serengeti District. FGM, a traditional pre-requisite to marriage amongst the Kurya people who live in the area however, it has been illegal since 1998.

There are financial, as well as cultural reasons, why so many parents support the FGM practice. The main reason is parents force girls to undergo FGM because they want dowry. When girls are circumcised, their parents have already arranged for them to be married. When the girls finish the initiation, their parents introduce them to their husband, whose family gives them cows as dowry.

In some communities in Tanzania, women who have not undergone FGM are victims of social exclusion in the belief that a woman who has been cut demands a higher dowry for her parents and she will be more faithful to her husband.

Female genital mutilation is illegal


In Northwest Tanzania, December is known as cutting season, female genital mutilation illegally performed on girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts.
Female genital mutilation safe house in Tanzania
The practice is illegal and the Tanzanian Serengeti government during the cutting season says there are immense challenges to stopping it. 

One commissioner stated, "The problem is that FGM is done secretly. It's difficult for police officers to safeguard every household to find out if it's happening or not."

However, December 2013, approximately 38 women were arrested for carrying out illegal genital mutilation on a group of girls aged from 3 to 15. The women were arrested by the police as they performed a traditional dance around a house where 21 girls, ages 3 to 15, had recently undergone FGM.  Sentences for FGM can garner up to 15 years in prison.

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