The unkindest cut

4 months ago Comments Off on The unkindest cut

AT a midwife’s clinic in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, services for baby girls include an incision with a needle to the fold of skin above the clitoris. The clinic’s laser, popular with well-off clients, is out of action. Other midwives prefer a needle-prick to draw a drop of blood. Some just dab on iodine. About half of Indonesian girls have had one of these procedures, collectively known as sunat, the local term for ritual female circumcision. Some midwives offer it free as part of their delivery package.

Santinam, a security guard in Jakarta, took his infant girls to a traditional circumciser in the village he comes from. They were not hurt, he says, just cut a little, “nothing even like the way boys are circumcised.” The UN disagrees with his take. It counts such cuts and pricks as female genital mutilation (FGM),even if they cause no lasting harm to health or sexual sensation.

Globally, over 4m girls a year undergo ritual tampering with their genitals, the UN estimates. This ranges from the symbolic, such as rubbing with turmeric or other herbs, through singeing or excising part of the clitoris, to…

The Economist: International