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Crowd2Map is on a mission to prevent Female Genital Mutilation

Maps of rural Tanzania are helping social workers access remote villages and rescue girls who are being forced to undergo female genital cutting.

#takeaction podcast guest Janet Chapman is the founder of Crowd2Map and the chair of Tanzania Development Trust.

With Janet we talked about Female Genital Mutilation, a severe human rights issue, where girls undergo the very dangerous practice of cutting their genitals. Crowd2Map works with Hope for Women and Girls to produce maps for the rescue teams to better find girls under threat of this practice.

Listen the podcast:

What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) also referred to as Female Genital Cutting (FGC), was criminalised in 1998 on girls under the age of 18 in Tanzania. The illegal practice is often performed without pain relief or hygienic equipment and can lead to complex infections, infertility and in some cases, girls have bled to death.

In an attempt to avoid legal ramifications, FGM is often performed in secret, without the consent of the individual. It’s considered a traditional rite of passage into adulthood and FGM secures a higher dowry for the parents of girls who have undergone the procedure.

Hope for Girls and Women — safe houses for girls escaping FGM

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Hope for Girls and Women (Matumaini kwa Wasichana na Wanawake in Swahili) was founded by the Tanzanian activist Rhobi Samwelly in 2017. Rhobi’s personal experience of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) as a child inspired her lifelong commitment to fight for the rights of girls and women. Our organisation runs two safe houses in the Butiama and Serengeti Districts of the Mara Region of Tanzania, which shelter and support those fleeing FGM, child marriage, and other forms of gender based violence.

Rhobi Samwell founded Hope for Girls and Women in 2017.

Rhobi explains, “I grew up in a small village where girls were seen as commodities to exchange for cattle, I was cut and forced to marry against my will. I want to inspire girls to stand up for their rights to education, not to be cut, and to marry who they choose.”

“I wanted girls to have the support in saying no, that I never had. To realise they can have control over their bodies and their lives.”

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Determined that Women and Girls should be recognised as being equal inspired Rhobi to set up her first Safe House in 2014, just in time for the ‘cutting season’. Some girls ran through the night to escape FGM/C and were severely emotionally troubled by their experiences.

Crowd2Map — To get help to girls and women who are at risk, FGM activists and the police need better maps

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Crowd2Map Tanzania has been mapping rural Tanzania into OpenStreetMap since October 2015. They have trained over 14,000 remote mappers from all over the world to map from satellite images and over 3000 field mappers to add their local knowledge to these base maps, mostly using the free smartphone app Maps.Me.

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Notifications of FGM taking place often only reaches rescue teams with hours to spare, at night, so the team has to react quickly. Crowd2map volunteers are based all over the world. Remote mappers add roads and buildings from satellite images and those on the ground in Tanzania continue the process with their local knowledge, but more help is always needed.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Tanzanian Development Trust — Hostels for girls: The construction of hostels for girls in secondary schools is an essential step in combatting many gender-based violence issues. In hostels, girls can be kept safe from unwanted male aggression, reducing the likelihood of rape, sexual abuse, early pregnancy and marriage. In districts that have already built dormitories in government schools, there has been an almost immediate reduction in teen pregnancies.

Access to water: Water is the key to life, particularly in a village like Zeze, Kasulu, in western Tanzania. This group makes cheap, easily maintained water pumps for villages, to save women from walking for many hours to collect water from dirty ponds.

Anyone with an internet connection can help them map! Want to get involved? Visit their website for details or reach out to Janet Chapman on LinkedIn or via email.

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