A little girl is pinned to the ground while adults saw off her genitals with a chunk of broken glass. Another newborn girl has her clitoris sliced off at a “Women’s Health Clinic”. The night before her arranged wedding, a fourteen-year-old girl is mutilated with a rusty ceremonial sword.
This is Indonesia, a nation of 250 million of whom 88% are Moslem, and whose government has just announced it will refuse to implement a December 2012 United Nations resolution that bans female genital mutilation.
The practice, common in Islamic countries and even among Moslem immigrants to Europe and North America, is supposed to keep a woman “clean” by removing part of her sexual organs so that she will not be “poisoned” by sexual desire or pleasure. If your wife experiences sexual pleasure, many men believe, she may seek it with someone other than you.
Though never authorized in the Koran, the practice “reduces sexual pleasure in women to that of having a bowel movement,” one Indonesian women’s rights activist has said.
Female circumcision has been common in many African and most other Islamic countries, but the UN Resolution is changing that trend. Not in Indonesia, however, where the leading Moslem clerical group has published a fatwa, or religious ruling, recommending it. Government officials argue that female circumcision is too universal in Indonesia to ever stamp out.
Indonesia, however, is a major tourist destination. Last year over 8 million tourists spent over $10 billion in Indonesia. Shouldn’t those of us who might travel there reconsider? Do we want to support a culture that approves the cutting off a woman’s most private and erotic body parts? A culture in which even the women are too dominated to object?
Whether we are men or women, isn’t it our job, our responsibility, to encourage good and not support evil?
Let’s spread the word to fellow travelers, tourism sites and the media: No visiting Indonesia until it stops mutilating little girls. They might soon find the practice not hard to overturn at all.
We can vote with our tourism dollars for a better world.