Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 December 2014, 12:47 GMT

Tanzania: The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM); state protection available to victims

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 14 August 2008
Citation / Document Symbol TZA102863.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Tanzania: The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM); state protection available to victims, 14 August 2008, TZA102863.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d2237c28.html [accessed 25 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Legislation

The Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act, 1998 (SOSPA) prohibits female genital mutilation (FGM) from being performed on girls, which it defines in Article 3 as "female person[s] of the age of under eighteen years" (Tanzania 1 July 1998, Art. 21), but it does not provide protection to females aged eighteen years or older (LHRC Jan. 2008, 64; UN 27 Feb. 2003, Para. 620; US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5). Article 21 of SOSPA amends Section 169 of the Penal Code by adding the following paragraph:

169A.-(l) Any person who, having the custody, charge or care of any person under eighteen years of age, ill treats, neglects or abandons that person or causes female genital mutilation or procures that person to be assaulted', ill treated, neglected or abandoned in a manner likely to, cause him suffering or injury to health, including injury to, or loss, of sight or hearing, or limb or organ of the body or any mental derangement, commits the offence of cruelty to children. (Tanzania 1 July 1998, Art. 21)

Upon conviction, the offender is liable to either a fine not in excess of 300,000 shillings (TZS) or approximately 261.53 Canadian dollars (XE.com 17 June 2008), or imprisonment of no less than five years and no more than fifteen years, or both (Tanzania 1 July 1998, Art. 21). In its 2008 annual report covering the period from January to December 2007, Amnesty International (AI) states that there have been no reports of prosecutions in FGM cases (AI 2008, 293; see also US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5); however, in a United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights report covering the period from 1994 to 2003, it was noted that local governments had imposed prison sentences on people who had been convicted of practising FGM on young girls (UN 27 Feb. 2003, Para. 626).

The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM)

The three primary types of FGM are: type I circumcision which entails the removal of the "prepuce" of the clitoris (UN n.d; FGC Education and Networking Project n.d.); type II excision or clitoridectomy which involves the removal of the entire clitoris in addition to the cutting or removal of the labia minora (ibid.; UN n.d); and type III infibulation, the most extreme form of FGM, which involves the removal of the entire external genitalia as well as the stitching of the vagina so that only a narrow opening remains (Equality Now Apr. 2006; UN n.d; FGC Education and Networking Project n.d).

In its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007, the United States (US) Department of State states that "clitoridectomy, the least severe form of FGM" is the most common form practised in Tanzania (US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5); however, the Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project (FGC Education and Networking Project n.d), a web-based project maintained by Marianne Sarkis which offers interested parties a network for information-sharing on FGM (ibid. 30 June 1999), indicates that type II and III are the most common forms of FGM practised in Tanzania (FGC Education and Networking Project n.d). The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provides statistics for 2004 in an appendix to a 2008 report which reflect the findings of the Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project, indicating that of the 14.6 percent of women aged 15 to 49 who had undergone some form of FGM, 13.3 percent had had flesh removed (US Mar. 2008, 19).

The Tanzanian government conceded that there was a "high prevalence" of FGM in its 2006 National Population Policy report (Tanzania 2006, Sec. 4.6.2, viii), and in a report released in January 2008, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works to create public awareness of rights issues and provides legal aid services in Tanzania (LHRC n.d), notes that it was ranked ninth in the world in terms of FGM prevalence by some sources (ibid. Jan. 2008, 63). The number of females who have undergone FGM vary according to region (Tanzania 2006, Sec. 4.6.2, viii) and reports indicate that it is practised among approximately 20 of Tanzania's 130 ethnic groups (US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5; UN 27 Feb. 2003, Para. 626). The Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2004-05 indicates that it is common in several regions including Manyara, where 81 percent of women have undergone some form of FGM, followed by Dodoma, where approximately 68 percent of women have undergone the process (Tanzania 2005, Table 13.2). It is also practised in Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro, and Singida (US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5; LHRC Jan. 2008, 63). Several sources indicate that fifteen percent of women in Tanzania have undergone FGM (US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5; LHRC Jan. 2008, 63; The Guardian 19 May 2007).

USAID figures for 2004 indicate that 9.1 percent of girls between the ages of ten to fourteen years have undergone some form of FGM (US Mar. 2008, 17). The Tanzanian government's 2006 National Population Policy report breaks down the age at which FGM is practised as follows:

The percentage of girl-children circumcised by age 1 is higher in urban areas (34 percent) than in rural areas (28 percent), and the corresponding proportion of circumcisions at age 13 or later is 19 and 31 percent, respectively. About 9 percent of FGM takes place at the ages of 15-19 years, 14 percent at the age of 20-24 years, 15 percent at the age of 25-29 years and about 16 percent at the age of 30-39 years, 19 percent at the age of 40-44 years and 23 percent at the age of 45-49 years. (Tanzania 2006, Sec. 4.6.2, viii)

State protection and enforcement

Country Reports 2007 notes that enforcement of the legislation covering FGM is difficult due to insufficient knowledge of the law, inadequate police resources, the victim's reluctance to testify against family and community members, fear of reprisals from FGM practitioners, and bribery of local leaders by those responsible in order to avoid prosecution (US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5). Equality Now, an organization that advocates an end to violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world (Equality Now n.d.), adds that remote regions are often difficult for police to access and that if FGM has already occurred, investigation and judicial follow-through are poor (ibid. Apr. 2006). In addition, the LHRC notes that cases that are reported are often dismissed due to lack of evidence or witnesses failing to appear in court (ibid. Jan. 2008, 63).

Despite the continued prevalence of FGM and the enforcement issues surrounding it, sources indicate that the practice is on the decline in Tanzania (UN 4 Dec. 2006; LHRC Jan. 2008, 63-64). In one case, over 100 pending FGM procedures were prevented as the result of the joint efforts of the state and local elders to stop the process (LHRC Jan. 2008, 64). In Kilimanjaro, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) quotes the director of LHRC as saying that education campaigns had led "190 mutilators to lay down their tools" (UN 4 Dec. 2006). Furthermore, Equality Now reports on several cases where police intervention was instrumental in the prevention of FGM operations (ibid. Apr. 2006).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Amnesty International (AI). 2008. "Tanzania." Amnesty International Report. [Accessed 17 June 2008]

Equality Now. April 2006. "Tanzania: Enforcement of the Law Against Female Genital Mutilation." [Accessed 28 May 2008]
_____. N.d. "Equality Now." [Accessed 26 June 2008]

The Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project (FGC Education and Networking Project). 30 June 1999." Frequently Asked Questions about the FGM Education and Networking Project." (Version 1) [Accessed 17 June 2008]
_____. N.d. "FGC Around the World." [Accessed 16 June 2008]

Guardian [Dar es Salaam]. 19 May 2007. Rehema Mwakipesile. "Poverty, Discrimination Inhibit Attainment of Gender Equality." (IPPmedia) [Accessed 20 May 2008]

Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC). January 2008. Tanzania Human Rights Report 2007. [Accessed 16 June 2008]
_____. N.d. "Legal and Human Rights Centre." [Accessed 26 June 2008]

Tanzania. 2006. Ministry of Planning, Economy and Empowerment. National Population Policy. [Accessed 16 June 2008]
_____. 2005. National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2004-05. [Accessed 14 Aug. 2008]
_____. 1 July 1998. Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act, 1998 (SOSPA). [Accessed 17 June 2008]

United Nations (UN). 4 December 2006. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). "Tanzania: FGM on the Decline, Study Shows." [Accessed 16 June 2008]
_____. 27 February 2003. Commission on Human Rights. Economic and Social Council. Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective – Violence Against Women. (E/CN.4/2003/75.Add.1) [Accessed 16 June 2008]
_____. N.d. Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Fact Sheet No. 23, Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children. [Accessed 17 June 2008]

United States (US). 11 March 2008. Department of State. "Tanzania." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007. [Accessed 16 June 2008]
_____. March 2008. P. Stanley Yoder and Shane Khan. US Agency for International Development (USAID). Numbers of Women Circumcised in Africa: The Producion of a Total. [Accessed 16 June 2008]

XE Universal Currency Converter. 17 June 2008. "Universal Currency Converter Results." [Accessed 17 June 2008]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sources, including: Afrol.com, AllAfrica.com, Factiva, Gender and Media Southern Africa – Tanzania Network (GEMSAT), International Parliamentary Union (IPU), Kivulini, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA), Women Wake Up (WOWAP), Women's Legal Aid Centre (WLAC).

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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