For many of us, it is very common to talk about male circumcision, in fact in Indonesia where the majority of people are Muslims, it is something that is celebrated. But have you ever heard about it from a female? Yes, female genital mutilation (FGM) is something that is still widely practiced, the WHO aspire to end FGM by 2030, and by doing so will have a ripple effect on the health, education, and economic advancement of girls and women, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said.
So what is female genital mutilation (FGM) exactly? Female genital mutilation is an ancient procedure of cutting, scraping, piercing, or nicking of the genitals of young girls. Female genital mutilation is primarily concentrated in 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East. However, female genital mutilation is a universal problem and is also being practice in several countries in Asia and Latin America. In Indonesia, around 60 million women or half women of Indonesia are estimated to have undergone female genital mutilation.
Female Genital Mutilation in Indonesia
In some parts of Indonesia, female circumcision is still being practiced with the perception that it is a required act of faith. The Indonesian government tried to ban the practice in 2006, but the religious clerics released an edict as a response explaining that it was part of religious practice. The Indonesian Health Ministry released a regulation that allowed medical personnel to perform female genital cutting on young girls in 2010 with the argument that it is better to have a medical professional perform the procedure than risking the infection if it is performed by traditional circumcisers.
Nevertheless, female genital cutting medicalization can be more dangerous as the midwives often conduct actual cutting while traditional circumcisers are usually more symbolic acts of rubbing or scraping. Female circumcision in Indonesia is usually performing on babies. The majority of those who had undergone FGM could not remember it when asked as adult respondents.
The 2001-2002 Population Council Study shows that traditional FGM in Indonesia is limited to scraping, rubbing, and piercing. In contrast, in Africa, the practice frequently involves partial or total removal of the clitoris and stitching the narrow vaginal opening.
FGM has been practiced for more than a thousand years, so it is impossible to end it by a single generation. The United Nations strives for its complete eradication by 2030 following the spirit of SDGs 5 (Gender Equality).
Based on the information on the UN website, since 2008, UNFPA, jointly with UNICEF, leads the biggest global program to accelerate the elimination of female genital mutilation. The Joint Programme currently focuses on 17 countries in Africa and the Middle East and also supports regional and global initiatives. Over the years, this partnership has seen significant achievements. For instance, more than 2.8 million people participated in public declarations of FGM elimination, and the number of communities establishing surveillance structures to track girls doubled and protected 213,774 girls from undergoing the practice.
Any form of female genital mutilation is unacceptable, nevertheless. That is done without the consent of the baby or little girl, without a clear medical purpose or religious mandate is enough to classify this act as a violation of human rights.
Written by: Nevy Pangestika