Half of girls under 11 years old in Indonesia are circumcised, according to the latest finding by UNICEF, raising awareness and calls for bans on female genital mutilation ( FGM ) practices in the world’s most populous Muslim majority country.
It is the first time the global report has included Indonesia on the list, but the country ‘ combined with Egypt and Ethiopia ‘ accounts for half of 200 million girls and women in 30 countries that have undergone FGM, the study reveals.
The inclusion of Indonesia on the list, published on Friday, has raised the tally from 130 million circumcised girls and women in 29 countries estimated in 2014, albeit the study claimed that the prevalence of FGM has fallen significantly.
UNICEF data said prevalence of FGM in Indonesia was generally high in every province, with only Papua, East Nusa Tenggara and Bali recording one-digit percentages of circumcised girls in their respective populations. The practice is common in Jakarta, which is among the 10 provinces with the highest percentage of circumcised girls aged 11 and below, at 68.1 percent.
Indonesian authorities tried to ban FGM 10 years ago, but the Indonesian Ulema Council ( MUI ) issued a fatwa saying that female circumcision was part of religious practice.
In response, the Health Ministry softened its stance, issuing regulations that said the practice should only be done by medical professionals in a noninvasive way that did not injure girls and women. However, in 2013, the ministry revoked its regulations on female circumcision.