Through activities undertaken in this project by Tusonge, with support of the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) many issues pertaining to Gender Based Violence have come to the fore and in turn got the attention they deserve. As a result, sensitized women from among pastoralist communities who used to practice Female Genital Mutilations (FGM) as traditional circumcisers have shunned harmful practice and become agents of change in their communities.
A cutter abandoned FGM to save lives
Tusonge sensitized and raised awareness of the pastoralist communities in Arusha Chini against FGM, beneficiaries of this intervention included traditional circumcisers. As the results, after understanding the adverse effects of GBV to girl child some have decided to stop and become ambassadors to encourage others to do the same. Sara Koromo popularly known as Bibi Sara who had been engaging in FGM for a number of decades had this to say; ‘‘we thank Tusonge for letting us know the negative effects of FGM to the girl child. I have stopped and I can’t engage after learning the problems these girls will have when they grow up. Yes I was paid for practicing FGM but comparing with the problem it caused to these girls I decided to stop’’, She also added that; ‘‘life is better than money earned from FGM.’’
Not just a social practice
Hosiana Samwel another woman who was practicing FGM also said when they were little girls they feared Bibi Sara as she was infamous among them back in the days. Surprisingly, when she grew up she thought Bibi Sara was getting a lot of money and decided also to become Ngariba (a traditional circumciser).
‘‘It was terrifying as victims experienced massive bleeding and severe pain as it was conducted without proper medical procedure which involves numbing medication/local anesthesia. Tusonge have really supported us as every December when the schools were closed it was the time to conduct FGM.
FGM was not just perpetuated by harmful traditions but also economic benefits accrued from the practices as Hosiana revealed; ‘‘I used to earn around TZS 60,000/- or a buck (a male goat) for each girl child I mutilated so imagine if you had 10 child girls. I took it as a source of income and when I was approached first by Tusonge I didn’t take them seriously as I thought there was envy towards me because I was getting money. Later I understood and stopped doing it, now we are working to educate others to do the same. So far we have managed to rescue 20 girls who were about to be mutilated. In the past, there was open animosity between us the Ngaribawith the girls now that has gone and peace has flourished.
Changed after becoming aware
Another former traditional circumciser, Theresia Moreta also said; ‘‘I was approached by former Ngaribaconvinced to abandon the practice at first I rejected the idea because it was a source of my income. Then when Tusonge came and educated me the effects of the practices especially when these girls become mothers many lose their lives when giving birth because of undergoing FGM in the past. We really thank Tusonge as they even visited us in our homes to educate us on these issues we have become also agents of promoting against the practices.’’
The Executive Director of Tusonge, Ms. Aginatha Rutaza said to shape up lasting efforts in addressing FGM through other projects they have helped these women who have stopped FGM to form economic empowerment groups. This will help them get the income to cover the gap of what they were earning as traditional circumcisers. Essentially, this would prevent them from going back to practice FGM for economic benefits.