Unicef Report Finds Female Genital Cutting to Be Common in Indonesia

Feb 5, 2016

Photo credit: Ed Wray

By Pam Belluck and Joe Cochrane

Female genital cutting has always been seen as an ancient ritual practiced in Africa and to a lesser extent in the Middle East, but a new global assessment documents for the first time that it is widespread in one of the most populous countries in Asia: Indonesia, where almost half the women are estimated to have undergone it.

There has long been anecdotal evidence of the practice there, but the United Nations Children’s Fund estimated Thursday that 60 million women and girls there have been cut based on national survey data collected by the Indonesian government. The addition of Indonesia is largely responsible for raising the global tally of women and girls who have undergone the practice to 200 million from 130 million, and the number of countries where it is concentrated to 30 from 29.

“We knew the practice existed but we didn’t have a sense of the scope,” said Claudia Cappa, a statistics specialist for Unicef, which released the report. She said the new data from Indonesia showed that cutting was not just “an African problem.”

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

10 comments on “Unicef Report Finds Female Genital Cutting to Be Common in Indonesia

  • All circumcision – Both Male & Female should have been banned hundreds of years ago – Any parent who willingly has bits removed from their child (unless under the sound advice of a physician on solid medical grounds) should be jailed for life.
    That should sort it.
    Bloody savages!

    Report abuse

  • FGM = sole purpose is to curb the sexuality of women due to superstition and misogynistic puritanical belief (i.e. only men may or ought to be trusted to enjoy sex). No evidence for any medical basis or benefit, plenty of evidence of it’s harms.

    Circumcision = done for centuries primarily on reasons of health and hygiene, LOTS of evidence for medical basis or benefit, little evidence of harms. The opinion(s) of the occasional quack like Dr. John Kellogg, who had no discernible impact or influence on the practice in the West as anyone can tell or show. In fact, Kellogg himself wrote that it was a last-resort for cases of excessive masturbation where everything else failed to curb it. He advocated the usual things be tried first; parental discipline and education.

    But even Kellogg wasn’t such a quack. Just as some have failed to consider the times (or learn the history) which shaped the views of Margaret Sanger – making the mistake of retroactively judging her based on contemporary realities (not the realities of Sanger’s time) – some fail to consider or learn their history WRT the status of society in Kellogg’s day. Physicians frequently encountered persons who, for many reasons that are scarcely found today (except in the developing world), were developmentally impaired or disabled, or otherwise just raised like animals and never learned what behavior was socially acceptable. It’s not some coincidence that Kellogg wrote this from his experiences in mental hospitals , asylums for the insane or “feeble-minded”. It was unlike anything we know today unless you go to the slums of India or Brazil. Or, a real hospital/institution for the mentally ill.

    The occasional ‘nightmare’ story aside, these were not asylums filled with developmentally normal children who had committed the moral offense equivalent of dancing or listening to the Rock N Roll music in an ultra-conservative community/family of the 1950s. They were usually developmentally impaired, behaved compulsively, masturbated excessively and at inappropriate times, unable (intellectually) to curb their own sexual arousal, outbursts of anger, etc. No different from severe bipolar or intellectually impaired persons today who have problems with drug addiction, compulsive sexual behavior, repeated unplanned pregnancies, multiple abortions, or popping-out child after child they can’t care for so they become wards of the state.

    Report abuse

  • 3
    NearlyNakedApe says:


    She said the new data from Indonesia showed that cutting was not just “an African problem.”

    I like how the authors of the article, without saying so, are making a reference to Reza Aslan’s claim that FGM is a “African problem” and that it has nothing to do with Islam. It’s about time that this self-proclaimed “expert on Islam” is exposed for what he really is.

    Report abuse

  • @ NearlyNakedApe

    Beat me to it!

    This info is telling. The problem is the ideology, not geography.

    The practice is “regarded as part of our culture, or a confirmation that they will be officially ‘Islamized,’ ”

    Just “scratching” the surface?!?

    Report abuse

  • We have known for decades the horrors of genital cutting imposed on Muslim women in Africa and right now, in the second decade of the XXI century, we’ve discovered Indonesia’s best guarded secret. This is like landing on the dark side of the Moon, as far as discoverings are concerned,but with far more suffering on the part of the victims of such appalling practice. I wonder how many other Muslim countries in Asia have this barbarian custom?
    and I wonder how many other horrors conceals the Muslim religion – apart from those already known.

    Report abuse

  • We should stop the hypocrisy. American doctors did various forms of FGM for over 130 years on unconsenting, defenseless female children and adults. Please see: Female Circumcision and Clitoridectomy in the United States: A History of a Medical Treatment, by Sarah B Rodriguez, published by the U. of Rochester. Prof. Rodriguez teaches in the medical school at Northwestern U. in Chicago in the Bioethics and Global Health program. Keep in mind that our medical establishment still sexually mutilates a couple hundred thousand women each year in unnecessary, damaging, dangerous episiotomies during childbirth. When American doctors did FGM, we didn’t call it FGM. Instead, we had euphemisms like “Orificial Surgery”. (Google “journal of orificial surgery”). Anyone can read some of horrendous history of FGM on the internet since Google has put some of the issues of this journal online as a free e-book. And, let’s not forget, “hysterectomy” literally means to “remove the hysteria”! Until the whole world wakes up to the idea that no child — male, female, or intersex — should have healthy, functional genital removed, then these abuses will continue.

    Report abuse

  • Can we finally dispense with the argument then that this has nothing to do with Islam?

    After all Islam only took over from Hinduism and Buddhism in the region in the 1600’s so it would seem not to occur as a result of tribalism at least in Indonesia. Clearly it was brought there with Islam and because of Islam. So nothing to do with tribalism and everything to do with the masochistic and sexually repressed views of Islam.

    In the article they talk about it needing to be done before marriage, well I can get along with that provided they don’t get married before adulthood and the women (adults) are free to choose not to submit to the practice without being ostracized by the community. If only adults were allowed to choose to do this I believe the practice would end in a generation. The most hideous thing about this is, knowing this, religions practice circumcisions on children who have no power to resist or refuse.

    I’m sure a fringe would opt to get it done in the same manner that some western men and women choose to have piercings in all sorts of painful places. Fine, If you want to have it cut off, sliced or whatever as an adult fine. If you want to cut it off and graft it onto your forehead go for it for all I care, but leave the children alone!

    Report abuse

  • Psychological support is being oganised for FGM victims in the UK.


    Mental health services will be developed to provide specialised support for victims of female genital mutilation in England.

    Healthcare professionals will be trained to understand how to treat FGM’s psychological impact, the government said.

    FGM refers to any procedure that alters or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

    .The news comes on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.

    Report abuse

  • However – throughout some parts of the world the abuses persist!


    Around 50 girls are being treated in hospital in Burkina Faso after botched circumcisions, or female genital mutilation (FGM), a minister says.

    Not all girls who underwent the circumcision have been traced, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Laurence Marshall Ilboudo, said.

    Two 60-year-old women, along with the parents of some of the girls, have been arrested.

    FGM has been illegal in Burkina Faso since 1996.

    Offenders face up to three years in prison.

    The circumcisions took place in the Kaya area, about 100km (60 miles) north of the capital, Ouagadougou, between 4 and 6 September.

    Some of the victims are as young as four years, authorities say.

    A dozen girls have been admitted to the Kaya Regional Hospital and 38 to the Chiphra Protestant Hospital in the capital.

    Some of the girls had suffered serious complications, Dr Dieudonne Ouedraogo told the BBC.

    Hopefully the authorities will make an example of the culprits to deter others!

    Report abuse

  • I see religious backwardness is still ignoring civil laws and inflicting damage on citizens!

    Police in Egypt have arrested the parents and aunt of a 14-year-old girl who died while undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM).
    The doctor who allegedly performed the procedure in the province of Asyut was also held.

    All four were detained after the victim’s uncle alerted the authorities, officials told the BBC.

    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.