Traditional leaders, politicians blamed for GBV

TRADITIONAL leaders and some politicians are among key agents for the prolonged harmful cultural practices which leads to the violation of girls and women’s rights in the country, said Gender Activist Rhobi Samwelly.

Such harmful practices include forced or early marriages, gender based violence (GBV) and female genital mutilation (FGM).

While the Sexual Offences Special Provision Act of 1998 safeguard people’s integrity, dignity, liberty and security of women and children, the law has failed to hold accountable traditional leaders who announce the cutting season and bless the tools used for carrying out FGM in the various societies.

Ms Samwelly revealed this during a film screening of the movie “In the name of your daughter” and a panel discussion on GBV organized by the French Embassy in partnership with the French Cultural Center in Dar es Salaam, on Monday as part of the 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence.

Rhobi who is the founder of a non-governmental organization known as Hope for Girls which provides a safe haven for girls who have fled their homes in fear of undergoing FGM in Mara Region, indicated that traditional leaders were key drivers of FGM in societies carrying out the practices.

“The traditional leaders have already announced that this year is the cutting season…they are the ones who select the cutters and bless the tools, but the law is not touching them,” said Ms Rhobi.

On the other hand, she pointed out that some politicians in FGM prone regions use the agenda to gain people’s support during elections and other activities which requires their attention.

According to her, the politicians have not exerted the needed political will to eradicate the problem which was depriving girls and women’s rights in such communities.

Likewise, parents and guardians of girls in the Kurya tribe of Mara Region which practice FGM widely contest the work of activists who are seen as big enemies.

In the film, a female Police Officer from Gender and Children Desk WP Sijali Nyambuche is seen acting very firm against the FGM fight as they move to arrest and help young girls flee from their homes to escape the cutting.

WP Sijali in strong collaboration with Hope for Girls, social welfare officers, health organs in Serengeti District of Mara Region have successfully rolled out awareness campaigns in schools, public settings and homes, making possible for the many cases being reported.

On his part, a Mobilization Officer at Hope for Girls, Emmanuel Goodluck said FGM was used as means of acquiring an income, therefore as a young man who works to fight against the practices he has widely been contested.

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