Crowdsourced maps helps girls in rural Tanzania escape FGM

Crowdsourced maps helps girls in rural Tanzania escape FGM

In areas of Tanzania, female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced and the ‘cutting season’ typically occurs during the same time as holidays in December. FGM is a procedure where the female genitals are cut, altered, or injured for non-medical reasons. Young girls subjected to FGM suffer from negative health consequences such as hemorrhage, pain, infections, and even death.

Human rights activist Rhobi Samwelly commented:

“Without safe houses, girls will be cut. During the cutting season, you can’t get protection in the community.”

When Rhobi Samwelly was thirteen years old, she begged her parents not to have her cut. Samwelly’s parents ignored her wishes and she nearly bled to death due to her wounds. After that pivotal moment, Samwelly was determined to end FGM practices and she became a social activist.

Through community outreach and school programs, she is informing young girls about how and where to find refuge at the safe houses operated by Hope for Girls and Women.

In the past, safe houses have received calls from young, FGM victims and worried community members. However, one major issue arises because locating the girls is often very difficult.

Even though numerous areas of rural Tanzania, including villages of approximately 10,000 people are unmapped, volunteers in Tanzania and from around the world are working to change that. Local activists have worked together to identify areas that need to be mapped and then volunteers worldwide fill them in through the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team’s online platform.

Afterwards, local volunteers add in details such as street names, schools, clinics, and neighborhoods.  During the mapathon, more than 49,000 buildings and approximately 7,000 kilometers of roads were mapped by more than 60,000 volunteers in over 60 countries.

As of now, the map initiative has been successful in helping more than 3,000 girls reach safety.

Despite the fact that the safe homes are a temporary solution for female FGM victims, many have worked to transform the social norms that sustain FGM.

The AIDF Global Summit will return to Washington D.C, in 2019. 

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