INDONESIA: Female genital mutilation persists despite ban

Muslims invariably lie and deny that clit-cutting has anything to do with Islam.  While it is correct  that FGM was practiced in some parts of Africa before the 7th century, the same cannot be said for Indonesia, which was largely Hindu and Buddhist until 500 years ago. Even 30 years ago the practice was as foreign as the hideous  Middle Eastern shrouds, which are now seen as ‘obligatory’ and falsely called ‘traditional dress’.

As you can see from this article, FGM is practiced only for one reason:  In March this year, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest Muslim organization, issued an edict supporting FGM/C, though a leading cleric told the NU’s estimated 40 million followers “not to cut too much”.

Thanks to Islamization Watch

Dede Jafar playing with her ten month old granddaughter. Dede did not hesitate for a moment to have her only granddaughter genitally mutilated. FGM is still widely practised in Indonesia,  even after the government ban in 2006

JAKARTA, 2 September 2010 (IRIN) – Though the Indonesian government banned female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) four years ago, experts say religious support for the practice is more fervent than ever, particularly in rural communities.

A lack of regulation since the ban makes it difficult to monitor, but medical practitioners say FGM/C remains commonplace for women of all ages in this emerging democracy (?) of 240 million – the world’s largest Muslim nation.

Although not authorized by the Koran, the practice is growing in popularity.

With increased urging of religious leaders, baby girls are now losing the top or part of their clitoris in the name of faith, sometimes in unsanitary rooms with tools as crude as scissors.

‘Nothing to do with Islam’- right?  Wrong:

“We fear if [FGM/C] gets more outspoken support from religious leaders it will increase even more. We found in our latest research that not only female babies are being mutilated, but also older women ask for it,” said Artha Budi Susila Duarsa, a university researcher at Yarsi University in Jakarta.

While the procedure in Indonesia is not as severe as in parts of Africa and involves cutting less flesh, it still poses a serious health concern.

“Even a small wound on the genitals can lead to sexual, physiological and physical problems,” Duarsa said.

Indonesia forbade health officials from the practice in 2006 because they considered it a “useless” practice that “could potentially harm women’s health”.

However, the ban was quickly opposed by the Indonesian Ulema Council, the highest Islamic advisory body in Indonesia.

In March this year, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest Muslim organization, issued an edict supporting FGM/C, though a leading cleric told the NU’s estimated 40 million followers “not to cut too much”.

Sexually mutilated infants, is this cult perverse or what?

Read more »

“It is against human rights,” said Maria Ulfah Anshor, a women’s rights activist and former chair of the women’s wing of the NU. “For women there is absolutely no benefit and advantage.”

Changing perceptions

FGM/C traditionally existed as a sign of chastity; a symbolic practice performed by shamans, or local healers, who used crude methods such as rubbing and scraping.

With shamans largely falling out of favour, the religious are turning to midwives who rely more on cutting instead.

“Midwives don’t know what they are doing. They were never taught the practice at school, so they do the same with girls as with boys: they cut,” Anshor said.

During the 32-year Suharto dictatorship, outspoken religious expression was discouraged, but since his fall in 1998, people started looking for their religious identity, with stricter interpretations of Islam being adopted by scores of municipalities.

More Indonesian Muslim women wear a headscarf now, claiming it is more accepted than it was 15 years ago.

Forbidden, but unregulated

The 2006 ban prohibited FGM/C, but in practice there is no oversight.

Yarsi University researchers found that in spite of the ban, the practice continues unabated in hospitals and health centres.

A midwife at a state hospital in Jakarta told IRIN on condition of anonymity that she cuts newborn girls: “When mothers ask me to do it, I tell them about the upsides and downsides of circumcision,” she said.

But when asked to explain the benefits, she declined further comment.

According to Yarsi University’s research, most incidents happen in secret, sometimes unhygienic, back-street operating rooms – creating a big risk of infection.

“If there are problems, it is because the practice is not done in a sterile way,” Duarsa said.

An official standard?

The demand for FGM/C makes it hard to control the practice, said Minister of Women’s Empowerment Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar.

“That’s why we encourage female circumcision to be medicalized and practiced by trained health personnel to avoid further harm.”

Gumelar is working with the Ministry of Health to make an unsafe practice safer, even though it is outlawed and has been condemned by a large number of treaties and conventions, and ratified by most governments of countries where FGM/C is present.

The development dismays women’s rights fighter Anshor.

“I would advise not to circumcise your daughters at all,” Anshor said. “If women are circumcised, people believe they become more beautiful and not as wild and will make men more excited in bed. For women themselves, they don’t get any excitement at all.”

It is hard to tell what impact, if any, government action will have on people like grandmother Dede Jafar, who had never heard of the ban but does not like it.

“That is so sad because Muslims have to be clean,” she said, sitting outside her home with her 10-month-old granddaughter who was cut eight months ago. Jafar noted that every woman in her family has undergone the procedure.

“Even if it is forbidden, we still have to find someone to do it. It is obligatory. We should always try to find someone to do it for us, because we have to.”


5 thoughts on “INDONESIA: Female genital mutilation persists despite ban”

  1. She smile on that woman’s face juxtaposed against the word “Love” on the baby’s little dress infuriates me. I guess Dede thinks it’s love that makes her happy the baby was mutilated.

    Fear makes these people tear apart their girls and women and fear and love cannot co-exist together.

    These people are deluded, craven savages.

  2. Savages is the word to describe the entire Islamic world. Who else but a savage would do this to babies? Who else would murder the innocent? Who else but terrorists would behave like savages?

    We must change the phrase from “War on Terror” to “War on Terrorists”. This is terrorism against the child and they must be made to stop. This is a country who jails minor offences by holiday makers to their country, allows a Muslim woman walk free after having drugs found in her possession, blow our innocent holiday makers to Kingdom Come, and they are allowed to carry on this atrocity against women and children, while their murderous bombers go free. Time for a rethink Australia.

    Are we still training these bastards in our defense facilities? If we are this is an abomination to every Australian.

  3. Sharia police force women and girls to get “virginity tests”.

    Sharia vigilante violence rife in Aceh: report

    By Sen Lam for Radio Australia (ABC News)

    Posted Mon Dec 6, 2010

    Islamic sharia laws in Indonesia’s Aceh province have been used by vigilante groups to harass and intimidate locals, a Human Rights Watch report says.

    The rights group has detailed evidence that the laws are often selectively enforced and rarely applied to wealthy or politically connected individuals.

    Its report says sharia police sometimes force women and girls to get “virginity tests”.

    Christen Broecker from Human Rights Watch says in one extreme case a woman was raped by sharia police while in detention.

    “The Aceh authorities should be commended because they did apprehend two of the three sharia policemen accused of raping this woman,” she told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia.

    “They prosecuted them and they sent them to prison.

    “But there are a lot of other low-level abuses that we’ve tracked that have not been similarly punished.”

    The report accuses Aceh officials of violating Muslims’ rights by their interpretation of sharia laws.

    “We have no position on sharia law per se. The problem is that these two laws we find violate Muslim men and women’s rights,” Ms Broecker said.

    “So they’re harassed if they choose to have consensual relationships with members of the opposite sex.”

    Sharia police told Human Rights Watch they were trained in interpreting Islamic law.

    “But they can be imposed by the regular police as well, and private individuals are encouraged by the law to help apprehend violators,” Ms Broecker said.

    She says this has led to a situation where “vigilante violence is a major problem”.

    “We think it’s encouraged by the laws and by the police failure to apprehend anyone who commits violence in imposing them,” she said.

    Ms Broecker says virginity tests are a gender-specific form of torture under international law and a practice that both the sharia police and the provincial government in Aceh have defended.

    She says women in Aceh can also be apprehended not just for failing to wear a veil but for wearing clothing sharia police consider tight.

    “And there still does not seem to be a clear definition of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in their view,” Ms Broecker said.

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