There are some topics in the geographies of development field that are never easy to deal with and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one of these. Instead of delivering a fairly standard lecture on the subject, I decided to involve a charity and a field practitioner in helping me introduce students to the subject at last Thursday’s session.
We began by Skyping Janet Chapman at the London office of the charity Tanzania Development Trust (TDT). Janet is a Trustee and Campaigns Manager of the charity that began its work in 1975. TDT have helped develop the FGM Safe House at Mugumu in north-western Tanzania amongst a range of other projects.
With the help of a set of PowerPoint slides, Janet explained that one of the many challenges facing young girls who wish to avoid FGM is finding their way to a safe house. There are no maps in this part of Tanzania and Janet has made use of online technology and Crowd2Map software to provide accurate maps. The students had the opportunity to join the thousands of volunteers already mapping this region. It soon became a competition to see who could map the most houses.
Fighting FGM at Mugumu, Tanzania. Rhobi talks to villagers at a Roadshow
The highlight of the session was talking to Rhobi Samwelly, TDTs representative in Mara, Tanzania. We used Skype again and had a three-way conversation with her and Janet with students able to ask questions about the safe house she runs and FGM.
It was a fantastic session and I am grateful to both Janet and Rhobi for giving up their time to help us understand a little more about FGM. I am also grateful to the IT support staff who helped me with the technology which worked perfectly.
Kevin Cook, Module Tutor