"Female circumcision or sunat perempuan tradition reflect gender inequality that is often influenced by culture, political and social values and so it’s very difficult to eliminate,” said Ms. Setiawati from the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment during a seminar on female genital mutilation (FGM), held in Jakarta.
Female circumcision (FC) as FGM is better known in Indonesia refer to various practices as harmless as wiping the genitalia with baby oil to making incision or excision of the outer part of the vagina to control sexuality or maintain purity. FC is practiced by some communities in Padang (West Sumatra), Banten (West Java), Sumenep (East Java), Kutai (South Kalimantan), Gorontalo (Central Sulawesi) and Makasar (South Sulawesi), among others. A 2000 study conducted in these cities and municipalities showed that 28 percent community members performed symbolic circumcision and 49 percent conducted incisionsthat can be categorized as harmful. It is estimated that around the world some 140 million women have undergone the practice and 3 million every year experience it.
The Ministry of Health has issued in 2005 a ban against medicalization of female circumcision by midwives, which received supports from the profession-based organizations and associations: the Indonesian Pediatricians Association, the Indonesian Doctors Association, the Indonesian Gyneacologiests Associations and the midwives association, confirming that it has no health benefit and potentially inflict sufferings: physical and psychological. Over 3 years after the ban issuance, debates on the medical and religious aspects of female circumcision are up until now still rife.
Dr. Zahidul Huque UNFPA Representative said that FC is against human rights and equality values, which are protected by the Human Rights Declaration and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. And that the adoption and application of these values would determine women’s health and social status in the communities.
"Men and women’s overall wellbeing and health is influenced by the way they are valued, respected and given the choice to decide without discriminations and coercion,” said Dr. Huque.
UNFPA, he added, would continue to support programme to end such harmful practice that degrade women’s dignity through raising health and gender awarness among government officials, health workers, community and religious leaders; to increase the skill of health workers for quality reproductive health care.
Another speaker, Sri Hermiyanti of the Ministry of Health, citing the 2005 recommendation on FC urged all related parties to educate the public about FC as a form of human rights violation; to increase understading among religious leaders and law upholders about FC and to call on MoH, MOWE and Miniter of Religious Affairs to urge the Indonesia’s Ulemas Council (MUI) issue a decree against FC practices.
For further information please contact:
Nugroho Nurdikiawan Sunjoyo- UNFPA Communications Officer:
+62 21 3141308 ext. 324