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Indonesian Muslim Scholars Reject Ban on Female Circumcision

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Jakarta: Indonesia’s highest council of Muslim scholars has stirred up a new controversy after urging the government to continue allowing female circumcision, objecting to a United Nations’ plan to ban the procedure. “What we reject is the ban,” Ma’ruf Amin, the chairman of the country’s highest Islamic authority, the Indonesian Ulema Council (IUC), was quoted by ABC News on January 24, 2013. The comments came as a response to the UN approval last month of a non-binding resolution urging its 193 member states to enforce legislation prohibiting female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for traditional socio-religious and other non-medical reasons. The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women, but instead causes severe bleeding, and later, childbirth complications and newborn deaths. The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending child births. FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of basic human rights of girls and women and is mainly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and the age of 15. Other Muslim countries where FGM is most prevalent is Egypt, followed by Sudan, Ethiopia and Mali.