Arusha - Police in Tanzania have arrested 38 women for carrying out illegal genital mutilation on a group of girls, a local mayor said Monday.
The women were arrested on Sunday as they performed a traditional dance around a house where police found 21 girls, aged from 3 to 15, who had recently undergone excision.
"As soon as I heard about it I sent the police round," Herman Kapufi, mayor of Same district in northern Tanzania, told national television.
Kapufi said some of the girls were still bleeding while others had wounds that were healing.
Female genital mutilation is still performed in some parts of Tanzania, despite having been outlawed officially in 1998.
Studies estimate that 15 percent of women and girls have undergone genital mutilation -- removal of the clitoris in the vast majority of cases.
The practice, generally carried out with a knife or a razor blade without anaesthesia and in non-sterile conditions, attracts a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
In some communities in Tanzania, women who have not undergone excision are victims of social exclusion.
Observers also cite a widespread belief that a woman who has been "cut" is more faithful to her husband.
Given the conditions in which the excision is done, girls often die from their injuries or from resulting infections.