The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is on the decline in Tanzania, according to the results of a study by the country's Ministry of Health.
Released on 1 December, the Tanzania Demographic Health Survey showed that FGM prevalence had declined from 18 percent in 1996 to 15 percent in 2005, when the survey was carried out.
"More efforts are needed by various stakeholders to ensure the practice is eradicated," said Ananilea Nkya, director of the Tanzania Media Women Association, a local non-governmental organisation.
Local NGOs attributed the decline in the number of girls undergoing FGM to continued awareness campaigns against the practice.
"The campaigns have had positive results, including a recent decision by 190 mutilators to lay down their tools in Kilimanjaro region," said Helen Kijo-Bisimba, director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre. She urged the government to increase its funding of projects aimed at eradicating gender-based violence, including FGM.
FGM involves the cutting and/or removal of the clitoris and other vaginal tissue, often under unsanitary conditions. It is practised in at least 28 countries globally. The United Nations children's fund, Unicef, estimates that up to 140 million girls and women around the world have undergone some form of FGM. It is practised extensively in Africa, and also found in parts of the Middle East and among immigrant communities around the world.
Human-rights activists have put pressure on governments to legislate against FGM. At least 16 African countries have banned the practice, and the Maputo Protocol, an African regional document that explicitly prohibits and condemns FGM, came into force in November 2005.
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