47 schoolgirls rescued from early marriages, FGM in Mara region

21May 2020
Sabato Kasika
The Guardian
47 schoolgirls rescued from early marriages, FGM in Mara region

​​​​​​​FORTY-SEVEN primary and secondary school students in Serengeti District, Mara Region have been rescued from early marriages and female genital mutilation in a span of less than a month, starting from April this year.

Organisation’s Executive Director, Rhobi Samwelly.

The rescue has been made by a non-governmental organisation—Hope for Girls and Women Tanzania in collaboration with the Tanzania Police Force.

Organisation’s Executive Director, Rhobi Samwelly said that the move has been successful due to the anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) operation carried out in the district.

“We’re not alone in this operation. We worked in collaboration with security organs and other stakeholders,” she said, adding that nine of the girls are in secondary schools, 20 in primary schools, 13 are Standard Seventh school leavers and five of them are uneducated.

So far, she said that all the rescued girls are in the organisation’s safe housing facility in Mugumu Town.

According to Rhobi, FGM is very active in the district, particularly at the time when schools have been closed.

Commenting on how the teenage girls were rescued, the activist said: “On April 1, we were tipped off by good Samaritans on the matter and in collaboration with police officers we started searching for them and until yesterday we found 47 teenage girls who were at risk of being married and circumcised.”

She said: “In collaboration with police force we’re still hunting for the perpetrators. It hurts to hear that girls, some of them under the age of five are undergoing such cruelty.”

Serengeti District has 78 villages, 30 wards and four divisions, and “we’ve decided to move around all those areas to ensure we rescue the girls from the violence.”

For his part, Mara Regional Police Commander Daniel Shillah said the fight to end FGM is a cross-cutting problem that require combined efforts and that the most important thing is for the community to be educated to break the chain of this outdated tradition.

"FGM is still a problem in Mara region, so all members of the society should support efforts to eradicate such practices by providing education and information on such actions to relevant state authorities," said RPC Shillah.

The police, he said, would not tolerate such atrocities and would instead continue to hunt down the perpetrators so that the law could take its course against them, emphasising that education could solve it most.