Indonesia: Despite Ban, Female Genital Mutilation Continues
Thursday, September 16, 2010 10:45 AM

Despite a 2006 legislative ban on female genital mutilation (FGM), the practice still widely exists in Indonesia today due to a lack of enforcement and an increase in religious support and pressure. The country is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, and in March of 2010, Nahdlatul Ulama, the leading Muslim organization, issued a statement supporting FGM for women and girls. There is a strong perception that female genital mutilation is a religious obligation, though the Koran does not authorize the practice. “We fear that if [FGM] gets more outspoken support from religious leaders it will increase even more," stated Artha Budi Susila Duarsa, a researcher Yarsi University in Jakarta.  “For women there is absolutely no benefit and advantage,” said Maria Ulfah Anshor, a women’s rights activist and former chair of the women’s wing of the NU, “[FGM] is against human rights.”


The practice commonly occurs in secret or in makeshift operating rooms, increasing the chance for infection. However, Yarsi University researchers found that the practice is also performed without hindrance in many hospitals and clinics, primarily by midwives with no training in the procedure. According to the Minster of Women’s Empowerment, Linda Amala Sari Gumelar, high demand for the procedure makes it difficult to control.  Her office is working to medicalize the practice in order to make it safer, despite the fact that it is illegal and banned by several international treaties and conventions. 


Complied from: “Indonesia: female genital mutilation persists despite ban,” IRIN, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (2 September 2010).