With the school close-down in Tanzania (due to the outbreak of COVID-19), 200 girls from the Kuria community have no other place to go than the Masanga centre, to be protected from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The Kuria community is taking advantage of the schools' closure, and has started mutilating girls when they get home. The girls in the Masanga centre are in urgent need of basic items such as food and hygiene kits.
Every year, thousands of girls (some as young as 9 years old) of the Kuria community in Tanzania are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). According to the Kuria tradition, FGM is seen as the rite of passage for girls into adulthood. Once mutilated, girls are taken out of school and married off, facing the life-long physical and emotional consequences of the mutilation and early marriage. With a forced premature ending of their education, these girls cannot be economically independent.
The Masanga centre is the safe space where girls can stay for protection from FGM, during the traditional 'cutting season' in December, as well as following the current abrupt close-down of all learning institutions in Tanzania. The project provides an alternative rite of passage; engages the communities to abandon the entrenched retrogressive cultural practice; provides alternative livelihoods (for ex-multilators), and builds the capacity of government actors to prevent and respond to FGM.
During the current schools' close-down, the Masanga centre shelters 200 girls to protect them from the immediate danger of being forced into FGM. For the longer term, the centre works at creating a fundamental behaviour & attitude change in the Kuria community to abolish FGM, by advocating & promoting the alternative rite of passage, involving all main actors in the community (traditional leaders, mutilators, parents, girls, boys). At the same time, the centre lobbies for law enforcement.