Indonesia: End government legitimization of female genital mutilation (FGM)

3 SEPTEMBER 2014 Update: Yielding to international pressure, in February 2014 the Indonesian Ministry of Health revoked the 2010 regulation which allowed medical professionals to perform FGM, citing its lack of health benefits. While this is a positive step, it doesn’t go far enough since the new regulation does not expressly prohibit all forms of FGM. According to our partner Kalyanamitra, instead it disturbingly states that while no actual cutting of the female genitalia should be performed by medical personnel, any practice of FGM should be done with regard for the health and safety of the girl or woman.

Without a law strictly prohibiting FGM in Indonesia, the government is tacitly endorsing a harmful practice that violates Indonesian girls’ human rights to bodily integrity, equality and freedom from discrimination, and violates Indonesia’s domestic and international obligations. In response, in March and April 2014, Equality Now and Kalyanamitra made submissions to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to call attention to the Indonesian government’s failure to ban all forms of FGM. In its official Concluding Observations released in June 2014, the CESCR urged Indonesia to undertake the “prohibition of FGM” and “conduct culturally sensitive education campaigns against FGM.” In June 2014, the CRC noted its grave concern about the high number of girls who had been subjected to FGM and urged Indonesia to adopt legislation to prohibit all forms of FGM, fully criminalize it and set up awareness-raising and educational programs.

Please continue to stand up for the rights of Indonesia’s girls by calling on its government to comprehensively ban FGM, enact strong penalties for violators, and conduct public awareness-raising on the harms and consequences of FGM as a human rights violation. Equality Now and Kalyanamitra will continue to use all available avenues to hold Indonesia accountable for protecting girls from FGM, and we will keep you updated as progress is made.

8 AUGUST 2013 UPDATE: We are pleased to report that following Equality Now and Kalyanamitra’s joint submission to the Human Rights Committee (HRC), the Committee expressed concern about Indonesia’s passage of a regulation legitimizing FGM in their concluding comments. The HRC has called on the Indonesian government to repeal the regulation and to “enact a law that prohibits any form of FGM and ensure that it provides adequate penalties that reflect the gravity of this offence.” They went on to urge the government to “make efforts to prevent and eradicate harmful traditional practices including FGM, by strengthening its awareness-raising and education programmes.” (CCPR/C/IDN/CO/1, Advance unedited version)  We hope that the Indonesian government will adhere to the Committee’s recommendations and take immediate steps to protect Indonesian women and girls from this violation of their human rights.

Equality Now has just issued an Action calling on the Government of Indonesia to repeal a 2010 Ministry of Health regulation legitimizing the practice of FGM and to enact and implement comprehensive legislation banning FGM.

In November 2010, the Indonesian Ministry of Health passed a regulation [No. 1636/MENKES/PER/XI/2010 regarding “Female Circumcision”] legitimizing the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and authorizing medical professionals to perform it. Though this “medicalization” of FGM permits a procedure that is harmful to girls and women and represents a violation of the ethical code governing the professional conduct of nurses, midwives and other health care workers, efforts to overturn the legislation have been unsuccessful; human rights groups on the ground fear an increase in FGM due to this regulation.

FGM is a harmful traditional practice that affects up to 140 million women and girls around the world. All forms of the practice violate a range of their human rights, including the right to non-discrimination, to protection from physical and mental violence, to the highest, attainable standard of health, and, in the most extreme cases, to the right to life. FGM also constitutes torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO), of which Indonesia is a Member State, has strongly urged health professionals not to practice any form of FGM.

Please join Equality Now and our partner Kalyanamitra in calling on the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection to live up to their domestic and international obligations by:

  • Repealing the 2010 Ministry of Health regulation legitimizing the practice of FGM
  • Enacting and implementing comprehensive legislation banning FGM with strong penalties for violators
  • Conducting public awareness-raising and education campaigns to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM and acknowledging FGM as a human rights violation with  harmful consequences

Also join us in calling upon the Indonesian Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Indonesian National Nurses Association and the Indonesian Midwives Association to live up to their international obligations as members of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) by:

  • Publicly condemning FGM in all its forms and its medicalization
  • Ensuring that strong measures are put into place to discipline Association  members  who practice FGM
  • Urging the government to repeal the 2010 regulation, working with them to enact a law banning FGM and promoting a comprehensive strategy and public education against the practice.

Letter to Government Officials

Dr. Nila Farid Moeloek

Minister, Health Ministry of Indonesia

Dr. Yohana Susana Yembise

Minister, Ministry of Women Empowerment/Child Protection

Dr. Prijo Sidipratomo (Govt Letter cc)

Chairman, Indonesian Medical Association

Letter to Indonesian Medical groups (Ob/Gyns, Nurses and Midwives)

Dr. Nurdadi Saleh

President, Indonesian Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Dr. Dewi Irawati

Chairman, Indonesian National Nurses Association

Dr. Emi Nurjasmi

Chairman, Indonesian Midwives Association

Dr. Prijo Sidipratomo (Medical Letter cc)

Chairman, Indonesian Medical Association

To learn more about the campaign & for a list of full contact information for the government officials above, see: