FGM in Indonesia: Don’t trivialize it – protect girls from it!

30 January 2014



Each year the genitals of two million Indonesian girls are cut

FGMTerre des Femmes, Kalyanamitra and Watch Indonesia! demand that the President and the Health Minister of Indonesia follow the international agreements signed by Indonesia and implement national laws to end FGM in Indonesia.

In 2006 the Indonesian government banned the practice of female genital mutilation. However in 2010 the ban was contradicted through the publishing of an advisory for medical professionals on the correct ways to perform the “circumcision” of females.

This sanctioned double moral standards, differentiating between “female circumcision” and “female genital mutilation”. This opened a market for doctors, which guaranteed that they would not be criminalized with their offer of services that they provided. Although the ministry of health and MUI recommend that only a “cut” is made, often especially in hospitals, the skin is removed and the clitoris damaged.

“Birth packages” classed as abuse of human rights laws, include health checks, ear piercing, vaccinations and FGM.

According to WHO every case of cutting and harming of a girls genitalia is mutilation. Type 1, which is mainly performed in Indonesia, includes the removal of flesh from the genitalia with or without hurting the clitoris. These mass mutilation procedures are also carried out in schools, with the permission of their mothers, who according to reports in the press, are encouraged with a food packet and €6 for each female “supplied”. The procedures of skin and flesh removal are performed often without an anesthetic, causing physical pain, increasing the possibility of infections and other often long term side effects.

FGM as it is practiced in Indonesia violates diverse articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the ratification of the Convention against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and plenty more which were all signed by Indonesia. It also violates Indonesia’s national laws on Human Rights (39/1999), Child Protection (23/2002), Health (23/2009) and Elimination of Domestic Violence (23/2004). Furthermore Indonesia is a member of the World Health Assembly of the WHO, which passed a resolution in 2008 urging all member states to enact and enforce legislation against FGM and prohibit the performance of FGM by any person.

Although FGM is not recommended or even mentioned in the Qur’an the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) released a fatwa (no. 9A of 2008) that lead to the misogynic change in Indonesia’s legislation. The MUI is a group of Islamic scholars that was established by the government with the biggest Muslim population in order to advice Indonesian Muslims – but their edicts aren’t state law and should only be obeyed by those who recognize the issuing authority.

Nevertheless, 92% of Indonesian families expressed their support for the continuation of FGM not only for their daughters but also for their future granddaughters. NGOs in Indonesia but also worldwide fear that the fatwa and regulation from 2010 might further increase the number of families who perform FGM on their daughters and that thereby possibilities for women including their rights will reduce. This development mystifies female sexuality, legitimizes heavy injuries on newborn girls and leaves women under the impression that a cut clitoris was mandatory for a prosperous life.

Terre des Femmes, Kalyanamitra, Watch Indonesia! and all subscribers demand from the Indonesian Government:

1. Enact and implement comprehensive legislation that will criminalize all form of female genital mutilation including female circumcision, and provide appropriate penalties/sanctions against offenders
2. Forbid all agencies/institutions and persons to promote and provide FGM services
3. Conduct nationwide awareness raising events, education, and campaigns among religious groups, cultural representatives, political leaders, and the population in general to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM.

Act according to the international contracts that you signed! All forms of female genital mutilation including „female circumcision“ are a violation of the human rights of women because of the harmful direct and indirect effects of this practice.

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