Ok La….

The EF female staff taking a picture for Idul Fitri ( the Muslim holiday celebrating the end of Ramadhan)

As a woman in Indonesia, certain things are expected from you…One musn’t bare their shoulders, one must be modest, one must be quiet, one must be subservient, one must be…hell….everything that I am the opposite of. However, out of respect for the culture that has been kind enough to take me in, I am trying my best to blend in.

Recently, a topic has caught my attention. It turns out that somewhere around 60  percent of women in Java are circumcised.  I didn’t believe it when I first heard it- I was sure that a primitive act of that type was not possible here.  I have heard of female castration in tribal areas in Africa, but surely not in Java!  I was hoping to be proved wrong, but sadly this was not the case. Not only is this practice a blatant infringement upon women’s rights, but  in my opinion it is barbaric. However, blatant is a wrong word for me to use, because it is not carried out blatantly here. Many women in Java don’t even know they are circumcised until they have children of their own and the time comes to repeat the same operation on their daughters. I guess if you have lived your whole life without sensation, you never know what you are missing….

One day I asked the native female teachers about the topic in the office. Seeing as most of them are young and unmarried, they were shocked by this information. But in the back corner, amongst the conversation, one of the native female teachers who is 65 (and always has an opionion about everything) ironically put her head down and stayed out of it. Hmmmm-I wonder why….

Now, I know one should be wary of statistics-which is why I decided to do my own research.  If you are interested in looking into it yourself here are some good links:

http://www.popcouncil.org/pdfs/frontiers/reports/Indonesia_FGM.pdf

 http://www.cirp.org/news/smh01-13-04/

The other day in class I gave a reading test . The topic was “If you had one day to live, what would you do?”.  The boys’ papers were carefree and fun. For example, one boy said he would make Surabaya filled with carnivals all day long- “Just carnivals in my city”. Another boy said he would build a mansion with an icecream parlor, basketball court, etc…But I observed that the girls’ papers were drastically different in tone. They said they would pray for God to forgive them of all their sins because they were so unclean. I don’t understand why so many religions condition their followers to have an overwhelming feeling of guilt looming over their heads at all times. Some of them, espceially Islam, surpress us (women more so) and constantly make us feel ashamed and unworthy. That isn’t a way to live life.

But in the end it is all the same..Back home its better to live in the loop, here it is better to live inside the river.

Screw it. I just want carnivals in my city.





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Comments

  1. I love you my sweet girl.

  2. you should send these in to newspapers or magazines or something and try to get them published, they are so good!

  3. You should write a book. Your message is conveyed so thoroughly, yet with incredible ease.

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