We were delighted to be invited to present our work at the Zero Tolerance event organised by UNFPA in Dar es Salaam on February 6th. Rhobi was part of the panel and talked about our work. She was accompanied to Dar by Christina, a former cutter who Rhobi persuaded to destroy her tools and stop this practice.
Christina had never been to Dar before, and had never travelled by plane, so it was a very exciting experience for her. When she saw the air stewardesses in their smart uniforms she asked Rhobi whether any of them were Kuria like them. When Rhobi answered no, Christina started to cry. “We have so much still to learn” she said.
Listen to Rhobi and Christina's story from Mugumu here: https://youtu.be/IF5A8oVCCBI
Persuading cutters, or Ngaribas, to stop the practice is an important part of the fight against FGM.
Ngaribas are appointed by the village leaders. Families pay them approximately $15 to cut one girl, $5 dollars of this is given to the village leaders. These are large amounts of money to subsistence farmers in the villages of Mara.
One reason girls are cut is because cut girls fetch between 10 and 12 cows when they are married, but uncut girls fetch only 4 to 6 cows for their family. As each cow is worth around $100 this is significant for families living in extreme poverty.
Hope’s outreach work on the effects of FGM and through roadshows, traditional dance festivals, village community forums, and film screenings is beginning to pay off. We have managed to change many people’s attitudes and stop the tradition of Female Genital Mutilation in many families in the villages.
Particularly importantly we have managed to persuade 6 cutters to ceremonially destroy their tools and stop cutting girls. These cutters are now helping girls not to be cut in their communities by helping them reach the safe house and providing anti-FGM education to the community.
This is a brave step for these women, and not always supported by their family or husband, who miss the income and status their role brought. Hope has worked with them, educating them on how to start alternative small businesses selling cereals in the market, and provided them with capital of £220 to do this.
Christina was previously a Ngariba in the village of Kebanchabancha. She attended one of the anti-FGM road shows and as a result she decided to stop cutting and publicly destroyed her tools. Although this resulted in Christina losing her source of income, divorce from her husband, and having to move away from her village, she says she has no regrets about this important decision. Christina now supports the Hope team’s work of re-education of those involved in cutting.
We know of 40 cutters who are still operating, who we still need to persuade to drop their tools. But we salute the following women who have seen the light and stopped cutting.
We have also been busy updating our website. We hope you like it!
Please check it out here
And thank you again for your generosity to help protect girls from FGM in Tanzania..