Some of the women who conduct female genital mutilation (FGM) here have said that the practice could be abolished if parents stop sending their children to them.
Speaking on behalf of her fellow practitioners in Serengeti district during the climax of 16 days of fighting gender-based violence yesterday, Agnes Thomas said that it was still difficult to eliminate the practice unless the parents change their mindset and stop taking their daughters for mutilation.
Agnes who took part in the meeting aimed at campaigning against female genital mutilation organised by Mara Inter African Committee, a non-governmental organisation based in Mugumu Town, said even though the practice earns them some money, they are ready to stop it once parents stop sending their children to them.
“It is difficult for us to stop because, it is the parents who bring their daughters. If they stop, we will also stop,” said Agnes.
Furthermore, some traditional elders who participated in the meeting from Kurya clans advised that it was important to educate the public about the dangers of the practice if it is to be stopped.
Some elders suggested that an alternative way of conducting female genital mutilation should be invented so that they could continue to honour their tradition without actually conducting the act.
They suggested that a way to honour the tradition could be by taking a girl who is to undergo the initiation rite and sprinkle her face with flour without actually using the implements on her genitals.
They said after the act, there should be celebrations just like when actual genital mutilation is performed.
They also insisted that pain must be inflicted on the girl through incisions on her genitals, so that blood would also be spilled.
In another development, some practitioners who were invited to the meeting failed to show up for what was explained as having received threats from a woman from the human rights groups that if they were to show up they would be arrested.
“Many practitioners had planned to take part in the meeting, but one woman told them that if they showed up they would be arrested,” said one Chacha Mandeti.
The Mara Inter African Committee secretary, Dr Stan Mahendeka, expressed surprise at the report, saying the organisation focused on educating the mass about the evils of genital mutilation.
“We're saddened by the rumour. We don't arrest people, we educate them about the effects of female genital mutilation,” he said.
Dr Mahendeka said despite the rumour, his organisation would continue to preach the negative impacts of the practice, especially now when the rituals are continuing.
He urged all stakeholders to work together to end the violence inflicted on the girls by the practice.