Circumcision and forced marriage of girls are outlawed worldwide. Nevertheless they are still being practiced in East Africa, e.g. in the tribe of the Maasai. It is a tradition there to take girls from school when they are between 11 and 13 years old, and to mutilate them without any anesthetic or medical supervision. Many of the girls bleed to death or die due to infections. For those who survive, school attendance ends and they are wedded.
If a girl refuses circumcision and her family does not accept this refusal, members of Tareto Maa together with the local pastor talk to the parents and try to convince them not to have the girl mutilated. But if no solution within the family can be found and the family casts out their daughter, we offer shelter to the child. Moreover, we educate the public about the physical and psychological injuries resulting from female mutilation, and the importance of school education for girls.
At present we shelter 122 girls and offer them a school education. But our work also has an impact on the girls outside the rescue center and on the parents' attitudes. We can already observe that many local people are willing to rethink their opinions. So it is a realistic possibility to overcome the traditions of female circumcision and child marriage in our area within a few years. It is very important, therefore, to continue our relief work.
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