Female Circumcision in Indonesia

A young girl hesitates as she is readied for the procedure. The families of 248 girls were given money to have their children circumcised in a mass circumcision celebration timed to honour the Prophet Mohammed's birthday. Photo by Stephanie Sinclair

A young girl hesitates as she is readied for the procedure. The families of 248 girls were given money to have their children circumcised in a mass circumcision celebration timed to honour the Prophet Mohammed's birthday. Photo by Stephanie Sinclair

When a girl is taken – usually by her mother – to a free circumcision event held each spring in Bandung, Indonesia, she is handed over to a small group of women who, swiftly and yet with apparent affection, cut off a small piece of her genitals. Sponsored by the Assalaam Foundation, an Islamic educational and social-services organization, circumcisions take place in a prayer center or an emptied-out elementary-school classroom where desks are pushed together and covered with sheets and a pillow to serve as makeshift beds. The procedure takes several minutes. There is little blood involved. Afterward, the girl’s genital area is swabbed with the antiseptic Betadine. She is then helped back into her underwear and returned to a waiting area, where she’s given a small, celebratory gift – some fruit or a donated piece of clothing – and offered a cup of milk for refreshment. She has now joined a quiet majority in Indonesia, where, according to a 2003 study by the Population Council, an international research group, 96 percent of families surveyed reported that their daughters had undergone some form of circumcision by the time they reached 14.

These photos were taken in April 2006, at the foundation’s annual mass circumcision, which is free and open to the public and held during the lunar month marking the birth of the prophet Muhammad.

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2 thoughts on “Female Circumcision in Indonesia

  1. I’m a muslim and I’m telling you that this is NOT an islamic ritual. it’s 100% traditional procedure and only group of believers in very few countries do it. Shameful but true that this and many other things people do in the name of Islam and has nothing to do with it, what so ever.

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