Female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation, is a deeply rooted tradition considered to be a rite of passage in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim majority country.
The process, which is also deemed a celebration attended by family, relatives, a healer uses a knife to cut off the skin that covers the child’s clitoris.
AsiaOne reported on an 18-month old girl named Salsa Djafar (not pictured) who had to undergo the distressing procedure in order for her to be “officially a Muslim.”
This remains a common practice among Muslim families in Indonesia, especially in areas like Gorontalo, where people are mostly poor and work as rice farmers.
Apart from being an obligation, local healers believe that those who are left “uncut” could possibly develop mental problems and disability. They also believe that it prevents girls from being promiscuous when they get older. Furthermore, many of them also say that God will not hear prayers from an uncircumcised woman.
The United Nations is strongly against the act and has even asked the government to declare a ban on female genital mutilation in Indonesia. However, because of strong cultural and religious aspects of the matter, the government only demanded a less harmful and invasive method to guarantee safety.
Compared to other countries, female genital mutilation in Indonesia is less harsh, whereas in Africa and the Middle East, some girls have to go through the dreadful process of having their clitoris removed.
Many organizations who strongly oppose FGM said that the practice violates a woman’s basic human right, but an expert on female circumcision, Jurnalis Uddin, also said that wiping out the practice would be near impossible, saying it is the same as “swimming against the current.”