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Monday, September 23, 2013

B2W : Biking with Confidence

Entering the sixth year of my biking to work

This July 2013 I have been doing the so-called ‘saving environment’ effort : bike to work for more than five years! This writing is, in fact, the English version of my writing a year ago. You can click the Bahasa Indonesia version here. :)

It all started on 26 June 2008 where some people including me gathered together at Budianto’s (also nicknamed ‘Budenk’) house, not far from my dwelling. There were around 10 people at that time, but I don’t really remember who they were. Some people I remember were Budianto, Triyono, Nasir, Firman, my sister, and me. I didn’t have my own bike yet, just a bike given by my brother in the beginning of 1990s.

Using that bike – brand ‘winner’, produced around the same era when ‘federal’ bike was booming in Indonesia – I started my ‘history’ to bike to work. It was not an easy decision to make though since I thought biking to work was a not popular thing to do (yet). It would be a ridiculous thing to do for a teacher, like me. :( However, since biking to work was an obligatory for someone who joined a ‘bike to work community (so I thought), I decided to do it. It was not easy for the very first time, having to answer people’s questions why I did that, having to bear people’s looking at me weirdly, and stuff like that. J I felt a bit shy if my students asked me, “why biking to work?” J

first time joining offroad biking 

In the middle of November 2008, I got a loving surprise from my buddies in B2W Semarang community: a mountain bike made by wimcycle! Wow! (Read the post here, n bahasa Indonesia) They had two reasons to buy this cute bike I nicknamed ‘Orange’ at the beginning then I changed it into ‘Orenj’ (just exactly like the pronunciation of ‘orange’ LOL) because I wanted to avoid the confusion of the meaning of ‘Orange’. In English ‘orange’ means the color of orange, just like the color of the bike. However, in informal Bahasa Indonesia, ‘orange’ means ‘the person’. The first reason was the ‘winner’ bike was too high for me who is only 150 cm tall. J The second reason was they wanted me to be able to join them in offroad adventure since ‘winner’ was no longer in good condition. At that time, spending Sundays going offroad biking was the favorite thing to do.

You can say maybe because I got a new bike, I got more enthusiastic to bike to work! With ‘bike-to-work’ tag under the seatpost, I felt like I was one heroine to save the environment since I tried reducing the pollution as well as the dependency on the fossil fuel. I should be proud to do that, shouldn’t I? J I didn’t need to feel shy to bike to work, did I?

FYI, I work for two institutions. In the morning, I work for a Permata Bangsa International School. The school is located quite far from my house, around 9 kilometer, and the location is around 190 m above sea level. In the evening, I work for LIA English course. The course is located very close to my house, only around 2,5 kilometer and the track is flat. As a newbie, I could not easily bike to the school due to the location which is 190 m above sea level. As a result, I biked to work only in the evening, only to the English course.

B2W Semarang community became more active in making Semarang roads be more friendly toward cyclists since we saw that there were more and more cyclists. It means more and more people realized to participate in reducing pollution and using fossil fuel. We proved it by having talk show to force Semarang municipal government to have bike lanes. We did it twice in 2010. Finally we proudly announced that the bike lanes were indeed made come true in the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, I started being challenged to bike long distance. With more people joining B2W Semarang community – with its new division ‘Komselis’ (folding bike cyclists Semarang community) – I participated in some events held out of town. Let us say JOGJA ATTACK event held 5-6 March 2011 where the participants biked from Jogja to Borobudur temple Magelang.  Then, B2W Semarang community itself held long distance biking, such as biking from Semarang to Kudus (April 2011) and Semarang to Jepara (May 2011).

By joining some events I mentioned above, I met a ‘partner’ in biking: Ananda Ranz from Solo. With Ranz, since June 2011, we biked from one town to another, only both of us. Since we did it for days, we called our experience as ‘bikepacking’ (‘quoting’ from backpacking traveler). We went bikepacking from Solo – Jogja; Semarang – Jepara – Karimun Jawa – Jepara – Semarang; Solo – Wonogiri – Nampu beach – Solo, Semarang – Tuban, etc.


With more experiences in biking, I challenged myself to – eventually – bike to work to the school where I work in the morning! In the middle of 2012, I started challenging myself to do it around twice until three times a week. Biking for 9 kilometer and going uphill until 190 m above sea level (now 230 m above sea level after the school moved to the new location which is higher than the previous one) to go to work is no longer impossible to do. Hope I can inspire more people to bike to work despite the track!

This is my second writing to celebrate my biking to work ‘anniversary’. Keep biking. Keep the environment clean. Keep being healthy.


GG – IB 15.55 10/07/13

P.S.:

Versi Bahasa Indonesia bisa dilihat di link ini

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Biking to Trowulan

This is the English version of this post. :)

BIKING TO TROWULAN

For those who have strong passion for ancient heritage from Grand Majapahit Kingdom, don’t ever pass up to visit Trowulan. Trowulan is a small town located in the west of of Mojokerto, on the border of Jombang regency. It is very conveniently located so that it is easy to visit: on the main road connecting Surabaya and Solo (Surakarta).

Trowulan is only around 100 kilometer acres. Although it is small, Trowulan is very rich with traces from Majapahit heritage, such as statues, temples, and some other archeological sites. Those sites are located closely from one and another so we do not need much time to visit all of them. One thing for sure: don’t forget to print the archeological site map of the location so it will be easy for us to find those sites.

Ranz – by biking soul mate – and I spared some time to bike to Trowulan from Solo two days before we attended the second folding bike national jamboree held on the 16th – 18th of November 2012. To prepare our journey, Ranz printed the map we needed, from Solo to Surabaya, also the map of Trowulan archeological sites.

We left Solo on Wednesday 14 November 2012. We needed approximately 20 hours to reach Jombang from Solo, and it was the first time for us to bike during the night. We arrived in Jombang on Thursday early morning around 5 am. We decided to take a rest in one gasoline station that provided toilet and prayer room. We spent around 2 hours here.

Around 7 am, we continued biking. On the way, in fact I was attacked by sleepiness so that I needed to take a nap around 15 minutes in front of one mini market where we dropped by to buy some bottles of mineral water. LOL. Ranz was sitting next to me nicely, taking care of me while sipping milk.

After 15 minutes, we continued our journey. This time, I talked to Ranz that I needed coffee so we dropped by at one simple food stall selling coffee, tea, instant noodles and some other refreshment. GIRAS was the name of the stall. GIRAS means healthy and energetic. And ... abracadabra, after drinking a glass of coffee, I felt energetic and really ‘awake’: ready to go on biking. LOL.

Not far from the stall, in fact we already entered the area of Trowulan. Ranz saw a name board of CANDI BRAHU (Brahu temple) on the left side of the street, so we turned left. However, before we arrived at Brahu temple, we saw a traffic sign of MAHA VIHARA MAJAPAHIT, so we followed the sign to visit it first.

at the front gate of Maha Vihara Majapahit

MAHA VIHARA MAJAPAHIT

Maha Vihara Majapahit (Grand Buddhist temple of Majapahit) is located in Bejijong village, Trowulan, Mojokerto. This temple is small, only one floor. The architecture of the building is the combination of Chinese and Javanese art. The temple is open for everyone and it is free to enter it. From the gate, we can directly see the main building of the temple. On the left and right side path, there are some statues in different poses. Unfortunately when Ranz and I went here, the door of the main building was close so we could not enter it. If one is lucky to be able to enter it. one can see three different shrines for three different sects in Buddhism: Hinayana, Mahayana dan Tantrayana.

From the main building, we chose to take the path on the right. There we found a giant statue of Buddha lying, it is 22 meter long, 6 meter wide and 4.5 meter high. The face of this statue shows Buddha when he was a child (young); different from the giant statue of Buddha lying that is located in Pagoda Avalokitesvara Watugong Semarang, his face was adult. In Maha Vihara Majapahit, the statue of Buddha’s color is golden yellow.

giant Buddha statue

From the location of the statue of Buddha, we went to the back of the main building, to the right path, where we found the miniature of Borobudur temple. We just followed the path, then we would go back to the front area of the main building.

Although it is located in Trowulan, and the name has ‘Majapahit’ in it, Maha Vihara Majapahit is not the heritage of Majapahit Kingdom. This temple was built by Banthe Viriyanadi Mahathera in 1985.

Going out of the temple, we turned left, then turned right again to go back to the ‘main route’. Not far from there, we would find one site named SITI INGGIL.

SITI INGGIL

Siti Inggil – or high land – was meant to be a sacred and respected land. It was said that in one point around this area, there was a place where Raden Wijaya – the name of the founder as well as the first king of Majapahit – meditated. Raden Wijaya ruled Majapahit from 1293 until 1309.

Siti Inggil

There are two sacred graveyards in this area, of Sapu Angin and Sapu Jagat. Many people – not only from neighboring places but also from distant places – come here to pray in order to get blessings.  Outside the graveyards, there is a fountain where people believe that the water is sacred too. After praying inside the graveyard area, the pilgrim then drink one or two sips of water from the fountain.

It is free to enter “Maha Vihara Majapahit”, but to enter “Siti Inggil” we have to pay one thousand rupiahs per person.

From Siti Inggil we continued our journey to CANDI BRAHU.

CANDI BRAHU

Candi Brahu is located in Bejijong village Trowulan, around 2 kilometers from the main road connecting Mojokerto – Jombang. It is said that the name of ‘Brahu’ is taken from word wanaru or warahu that means sacred place. The word was found in Alasantan manuscript collected not far from Candi Brahu’s location.

Brahu temple

Candi Brahu was made of red bricks (different from temples located in Central Java whose color is black or grey). It faces west, 22,5 meter long, 18 meter wide, and 20 meter high. It was allegedly built in the 15th century, with Buddhist influence. When paying a close attention to the temple, one will easily find that the temple is no longer original, there were some new bricks added in order to renovate it to look like it used to be. To avoid it to get more damaged, visitors are not allowed to step on the temple, moreover to climb it.

Visitors do not need to buy any entrance ticket. They just have to pay the parking fee, but for cyclists, it is free for them to park their bikes. From the friendly parking man, I got information where to go to CANDI GENTONG, and how to go back to the main road from there.

CANDI GENTONG

Candi Gentong (Gentong temple) is located around 360 meter to the east of Candi Brahu. People say that in 1889 the building of Candi Gentong was still complete. However, in 1907, the area was just full of a big piles of bricks. in 1995, an exvacation done showed traces of old building of walls made from bricks. The building was square, around 14,25 x 14,25 meter and 2,45 high, and the wall was 1,9 meter wide.

Gentong temple

Ranz and I didn’t stay long here. We only took less than 10 pictures then we continued to go to the main road. Coming to the main road, we found an intersection; we crossed the intersection to come to KOLAM SEGARAN (Segaran Pool).

It was still 10 am when we arrived there, however, it was very sunny and hot. We were very thirsty. Luckily outside the Segaran Pool, there were many people selling iced young coconut. We bought two glasses.

KOLAM SEGARAN

Segaran Pool is located around one kilometer from the intersection I mentioned above. This pool was discovered in 1926 where it was full of soil. The site was renovated in 1966 then again in 1974. It is around 6,5 hectare acres, from north to south 375 meter long and 175 wide. Around the pool, there is a wall of 1,6 meter wide. Outside the dry season, the water in the pool can reach 2,88 meter deep. Unfortunately when Ranz and I went there, the water inside the pool was only little.

Segaran Pool

Segaran Pool is allegedly the only ancient pool discovered in Indonesia. Historians say that in the past, Majapahit royal family used the pool to serve foreign guests around the pool, while the water was used as dam.

From Segaran Pool, we continued our exploration to Trowulan Museum.

MUSEUM TROWULAN

This museum is located across from Segaran Pool, a bit to the left. Visitors do not need to buy any entrance ticket.  The museum was built by Kanjeng Adipati Aria Kramadjaja, one regent of Mojokerto. He was helped by one Dutch archeologist,  Henry Maclaine Pont. The museum was built to keep and display ancient arheological things discovered around Trowulan.

Trowulan Museum building

Visitors, however, are not allowed to take pictures inside the museum. Therefore, Ranz and I didn’t stay long either here.

Leaving the museum, it was almost noon, we dropped by at one modest food stall located across from the museum. We ordered one portion of ‘nasi pecel’ for both of us (we both were not that hungry) but we were very thirsty! We ordered three glasses of iced tea. J

After brunch, we continued exploring to SITUS LANTAI SEGIENAM or “Hexagone tile site”.

hexagone tile site

SITUS LANTAI SEGIENAM

The site constitute traces of a house having hexagone tiles. This is interesting because from this site one can see that hexagone tiles were already used during Majapahit Kingdom. Here one can also find pots made of clay. Perhaps those pots were used by people in that era.

Umpak Sentonorejo site

SITUS UMPAK SENTONOREJO

I don’t know how to say it in English. LOL. This site constitues an open area with rocks lining up neatly. The site was discovered in 1982. Archeologists said that perhaps this site used to be a foundation of a building, that was closely related to SITUS LANTAI SEGIENAM. Both sites are located in Kedation, Sentonorejo village, Trowulan.

From the two sites above, we continued our journey to CANDI BAJANG RATU and CANDI TIKUS. (Thanks to the map of Trowulan archeological sites that Ranz printed so we didn’t find it difficult to find those sites.)

CANDI BAJANG RATU (Child King Temple)

Candi Bajangratu is located in Kraton, Temon village, Trowulan. Name of ‘Bajangratu’ for the first time was written in Oudheidkunding Verslag (OV) in 1915. An archeologist, Sri Soeyatmi Satari said that the name of ‘Bajangratu’ referred to King Jayanegara from Majapahit Kingdom. Word ‘bajang’ means ‘small’ (or ‘kid’) because in a book titled Pararaton Jayanegara was said to be crowned as a king when he was a child so he got title “Ratu Bajang” or ‘child king.

Bajangratu temple

Candi Bajangratu is believed to have been renovated several times since Dutch colonial government. To keep it in a good shape, visitors are not allowed to step on the stairs and enter the temple.

CANDI TIKUS (Rat temple)

From Candi Bajangratu, Ranz and I continued biking to Candi Tikus. This temple is located Dinuk, Temon village, Trowulan. The size is 29,5 meter long, 28,25 meter length and 5,2 height. This temple is called Candi Tikus (rat) because when it was the first time discovered in 1914, the area was full of rats that ruined the ricefields around the area. It was renovated in 1983 – 1986.

Rat temple

It is stated that Candi Tikus is the replica of Mahameru – one mountain located on top of Semeru mountain in East Java because there are four small temple miniatures where gods stay and it is the life source in a form of showers along the foot of the temple. This temple is built underground. In the past this temple probably was the place to take a shower for royal princess.

As other temples, visitors are forbidden to step on the temple. They do not need to buy any entrance ticket though, just to pay the parking area to park cars/motorcycles. It is free for bicycles.

From Candi Tikus, we went back biking to the main road connecting Jombang – Sidoarjo/Surabaya. Before leaving Trowulan, we dropped by at Gapura Wringin Lawang (door oak gate) located on the right of the road from Trowulan.

GAPURA WRINGIN LAWANG (Door Oak Gate)

Gapura (gate) or Candi Wringin Lawang is located in Wringin Lawang, Jati Pasar villate, Trowulan, around 11 kiloeter from Mojokerto to Jombang. Once it was said that there was one temple near a big oak tree therefore this temple/gate is called Candi Wringinlawang (‘wringin’ means oak tree, ‘lawang’ means door).

Wringinlawang gate

The shape of Wringinlawang is ‘bentar’ temple, that is a gate without roof. ‘Bentar’ temple usually has function as the most outside gate of one building complex.  This gate/temple was renovated in 1991 – 1995, it was made of red bricks.

Wringinlawang gate was the last spot we visited in Trowulan. From there, we soon continued our journey biking to Sidoarjo to stay a night there. The following day we continued biking to Surabaya to attend the second folding bike jamboree.


PT56 ~ GG August 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Religion versus spirituality


Religion is belief in someone else’s experience. 
Spirituality is having your own experience.
~ Deepak Chopra ~


My (religion) teachers when I was in primary school said that it was in the hands of parents to make their children Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. Since the majority of Muslim people believe that Islam is the only right religion – the others were no longer ‘valid’ or even wrong – Muslim parents have a very big responsibility to ‘MAKE’ their children Muslim. There are at least two reasons behind it:

First, one hadith said that Muslim people who have died will still get ‘blessings’ (pahala) if their religious (shalih/shaliha) children continue praying for their deceased parents. Muslim people believe the more blessings from God, the bigger number of ‘savings’ to enter God’s heaven. They have been taught – or my ‘favorite’ term ‘brainwashed’ – that heaven is their ultimate destination because all comfort is there while hell is the place they must avoid because never-ending torture will ‘accompany’ their ‘hereafter life’ forever. (Muslims believe that after someone dies, he/she will wait for the doomsday and the day of “Judgment” in one ‘dimension’ of life called ‘Barzakh’ – one domain between death the resurrection day. During their staying in ‘Barzakh’ someone still can get blessings sent by their religious Muslim children prays.

Second,it is stated that on ‘Judgment’ day, all human beings will be judged directly by God one by one. Muslims believe that there is possibility for one person to fail to enter heaven only because his/her children convert to another religion during their life on the earth and their parents do not prevent them from doing so. 

From the two reasons mentioned above, one can conclude that they refer to parents’ ego and desire to enter heaven; parents who never think that their children possibly have their own experience in adhering religion / handling their spiritual journey; parents who fail to have a two-direction communication with their children.

As a case study, I will take a comparison between one best friend of mine and me myself.
She did not get rigid teachings of religion when she was a kid, either from her parents or from school. Her parents did not teach her what to do to communicate with God although they were Islam. She learned Islam by herself, either from reading books, or from asking her friends, or joining any religious gatherings (called ‘pengajian’ in Bahasa Indonesia) until one day she decided to wear ‘hijab’. It was all her own ‘findings’ from her effort to find a way to communicate with God. Perhaps I could draw a conclusion that Islam is her religion, but based on her own experience, so it is also her spirituality.

I was on the somewhat contradictory life experience. I got a very rigid teachings both from my parents and my teachers in primary school (I went to one conventional Islamic school). The teachings were ‘choked’ into my brain while I was brainwashed that Islam was the only right religion and it would be safeguarded by God until the Judgment day so that the teachings would always be eternally applicable in all ages. 

The disappointment I got from religion (check this link  and this link) made me have my own spirituality. I no longer embrace the same religion taught to me when I was a kid and I adhered till my 30 years of age. 

However, you can guess that there are some people very close around me who do not let me have my own spirituality; they still expect me to go back to “religion” (read รจ someone else’s experience, be it my parents or teachers or religious leaders (ulema)) despite my mature age.

Sigh ... 

GL7 11.21 230513

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Social media influence on my spiritual journey


Many people who claim to be busy say that joining social medias is just a waste of time. Some reasons are mentioned. First, people who are active in social medias tend to hide their true identity so we cannot really get true friends. Second, people who are social media addicts tend to be lousy in doing their jobs since their concentration is divided into two: their ‘real’ world and ‘cyber’ world. They also tend to gossip unimportant things online.

However, to me, joining two social medias – facebook (FB) and multiply (MP) gave me a very valuable lesson, especially related in spirituality/religiosity.

Since I was born in the so-called xenophobic family and raised in an almost homogenous environment, I often feel amazed by people who ‘seem’ to be religious (let’s say wearing jilbab) but they do not ‘suffer from’ xenophobia*. In my naive thinking, one can become only religious but xenophobic or irreligious so free from xenophobia.

Having an account on FB and ‘making online friends’ with those who label themselves as ‘spiritual** people’ have taught me a very good lesson. I – coming from ‘a boat full of religious but xenophobic people – once thought that spiritual people are better people since they are not xenophobic. But reading their posts taught me that they can be as annoying as religious and xenophobic people. They can also easily judge believers dumb, narrow-minded. In fact they can be snobbishly spiritual creatures. Spiritual people can be fundamentalist too.

As someone considering others mature, know their choices and be responsible with the consequences, I would rather think that people are free to choose their  spirituality/religiosity. People can choose to be a religious adherent of one religion or to be a deist or to be a non-believer. The most important thing is no one will force what they believe to others and respect others’ choices.

Participating in an essay writing on xenophobia on MP and reading essays submitted to the juries gave me an answer why some religious people can be free from xenophobia; a very simple reason, in fact. They were born and raised in a heterogeneous environment. They started socializing with people from different religions since they were kid and their parents as well as their (early) teachers never brainwashed them about ‘the chosen people’ (are only Muslim, let’s say, or any other Abrahamic faith adherents). They started seeing the beauty of rainbows in their different colors since they were very young. Therefore, they beautifully see others with their respective faiths without any judgment.
Very contradictory from me who was born in a homogenous environment. The fear that perhaps I would be an infidel – oh no, the fear that they would be thrown to hell if their kids convert – my parents brainwashed me about being the chosen people since I was a kid and sent me to an Islamic elementary school that completed my parents’ teaching on being religious. Of course I also learned about tolerance, but this was really artificial.
To close this writing, I can conclude that joining any social media does not only waste time. As long as we choose to socialize with appropriate online friends, we can get valuable lessons to live our lives.

*xenophobia here means feeling to be the only true believers and considering the others wrong since they adhere other religions, moreover non-believers. In other words it can be said that xenophobic people will easily judge others deviant or infidel.

** spiritual here means thinking that it is not important to affiliate to any religion; be it a deist or embracing ‘traditional’ beliefs, in Java island, for example: Kaharingan, Kepercayaan pada Tuhan YME, etc.

P.S.:
This was written to accompany my writings to be submitted to Wayan Lessy, the one who held the essay writing competition on ‘xenophobia’.
GL7 16.39 050912

P.S.:
This is, in fact, the continuation of my posts here and there; both are in Bahasa Indonesia. I am still struggling to find time (as well as mood) to translate them into English. Please pardon me. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CIRCUMCISION


CIRCUMCISION

Some time ago I discussed “circumcision” in my religious studies class. I downloaded the material to be discussed from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/ . I intentionally selected the topic to introduce an idea about ‘female circumcision’ or people also call it as ‘female genital mutilation’. And, as I expected, all students did not know yet about the ‘existence’ of this disastrous ‘so-called’ tradition in some areas in the world. 

MALE CIRCUMCISION

To begin with, we talked about male circumcision. One male student of mine who just moved back from America to Indonesia around a year ago said that he and his older brother got circumcised after they arrived back in their home country. This particular student of mine is around 18 years old. When I asked him why he did that, he said his parents convinced him that it would be for his as well as his brother’s health advantage. He believed that circumcised penis is more hygienic. And after being circumcised he said that he felt his genital area was cleaner or it was easier for him to clean it.

Another student said that he did not get circumcised because his mother never talked about it. He believed if it were really good for his health, his mother would talk about it and offered him to have it or not. The statistic given in the material discussed – only around 30% of males in the world are circumcised – strengthened his opinion that circumcision is not important.

Two female students shared their stories when their brothers got circumcised. They said that their brothers got their penis circumcised after they had a discussion about it with their parents – especially their fathers : It is important that men get circumcised for medical advantage. Besides for medical reason, they believed that circumcision is compulsary because it is one religious obligation.

However, when finding out that in fact only the book of Genesis stating the importance of performing circumcision – and not in The New Testament nor in Alquran – my students started thinking that perhaps circumcision is carried out in some areas in the world due to cultural reasons and not religious instruction. 

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

As I wrote above in fact my students have never heard of female circumcision yet. They were never aware of this bloody inhumane practice. Their parents never talked about it to my students and nobody else has ever got them to know this. Since the Genesis only mentioned about male circumcision – and no verse at all in the New Testament or Alquran mentioning about it – we came to the conclusion that female circumcision – or female genital mutilation – is all due to cultures. (At least it is not supposed to be a part of Abrahamic faiths’ rite.)

“Why does it state that female circumcision is very painful while male circumcision is not? Or at least not that painful?” one student asked when the handout we discussed wrote “painful procedure.”

It is a painful procedure perhaps because in fact in women’s genital area there is nothing to be cut for any reason – for example for hygienic reason. If there is no hygienic nor religious reason, why do many people still do that nowadays?

Genital cutting is widespread within some African cultures and ethnic groups. It is seen as the climax of initiation, something that both boys and girls have to take part in before they are accepted as adults in the community. According to those who support this practice, the process of female genital cutting has practical merits in a physically harsh society. It is proof that the woman is mentally strong and able to deal with the difficult responsibilities of adult life. Nevertheless, representatives from many countries in Africa meet each year to discuss ways to end the practice because “female genital mutilation and cutting is a violation of the basic rights of women and girls. It is a dangerous and irreversible procedure that negatively impacts the general health, child bearing capabilities and educational opportunities of girls and women,” said Carol Bellamy, executive director of the UNICEF on February 7 2005, the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM.”

Girls in African countries undergoing female genital mutilation are usually still very young – six years old – so that it means the decision to have it is in the hands of their parents. The parents possibly do that due to social pressure and the girls cannot say ‘NO’ towards their parents while in fact those girls are the ones who will suffer from some negative impacts caused by FGM.

FEMALE CIRCUMCISION IN INDONESIA

Although the practice of FGM in Indonesia is not as ‘well-known’ as in Africa, we can still find it especially in rural areas despite the fact that the Indonesian government officially banned FGM in 2006. If in Africa female circumcision is considered as the climax of initiation before girls enter adulthood, what about in Indonesia? The article in this link said that there are three reasons why some foundations holding free circumcision events include female circumcision :

  • ·         It will stabilize her libido
  • ·         It will make a woman look more beautiful in the eyes of her husband
  • ·         It will balance her psychology

The first reason strengthens what women activists have said that the practice is strongly misogynistic. Inferior and weak men need to do something to ‘calm’ (or conquer?) women’s sexual drive. In order to make themselves sexually powerful, they must weaken women first. Besides doing this ‘physical thing’ they also create false true woman precept: a true woman must be libido-less.

The second reason is illogical since the criteria of being beautiful is different from one person to another. While the third reason is very wrong since FGM even can cause some negative impacts. FGM also can result in a lifetime trauma, moreover when done by not an expert and using non hygienic media.

The same article reported that female circumcision in Indonesia is less extreme than the kind practiced in other parts of the globe – Africa particularly. Despite some studies done on it informing that female circumcision in Indonesia is done by merely rubbing turmeric on the genitals or pricking the clitoris once with a needle to draw a symbolic drop of blood, the Population Council’s 2003 study said that 82  percent of Indonesian mothers who witnessed their daughters’ circumcision said that it involved ‘cutting’. Another article at this link  stated that “while the procedure in Indonesia is not as severe as in parts in Africa and involves cutting less flesh, it still poses a serious health concern.” 

“The fact is there is absolutely no medical value in circumcising girls. It is 100 percent the wrong thing to be doing,” said Laura Guarenti, an obstetrician and WHO’s medical officer for child and maternal health in Jakarta.

There is no medical value nor cultural tradition nor religious merit in female circumcision. The Indonesian government banned the practice in 2006. So, what caused the even more widely-found practice in society? Social unawareness! Ignorance! Misogyny! In order to make it safer, the effort proposed by Linda Gumilar, the Minister of Women’s Empowerment, to make the female circumcision practice medicalized and carried out by trained health personnel will make it sound misleadingly lawful.

Maria Ulfah Anshor – one women’s rights fighter – said, “I would advise not to circumcise your daughters at all. It women are circumcised, people believe they become more beautiful and not as wild and will make men more excited in bed. For women themselves, they don’t get any excitement at all.”

CONCLUSION

When male circumcision possibly has medical benefits and it is somewhat strongly encouraged from religious views – it is written in the book of Genesis – female circumcision has no medical benefits at all for women and it is not written either in any so-called holy book. The root of it is just misogyny that dates back from immemorial time. 

GL7 12.06 110612