When a girl is taken - usually by her mother - to a free circumcision event held each spring in Bandung, Indonesia, she is handed over to a small group of women who, swiftly and yet with apparent affection, cut off a small piece of her genitals. Sponsored by the Assalaam Foundation, an Islamic educational and social-services organization, circumcisions take place in a prayer center or an emptied-out elementary-school classroom where desks are pushed together and covered with sheets and a pillow to serve as makeshift beds. The procedure takes several minutes. Afterward, the girl’s genital area is swabbed with the antiseptic Betadine. She is then helped back into her underwear and returned to a waiting area, where she’s given a small, celebratory gift - some fruit or a donated piece of clothing - and offered a cup of milk for refreshment. She has now joined a quiet majority in Indonesia, where, according to a 2003 study by the Population Council, an international research group, 96 percent of families surveyed reported that their daughters had undergone some form of circumcision by the time they reached 14.
UNICEF says over 130 million women and girls are suffering from the aftermath of this procedure worldwide.
“The blood pumped out in waves. Words can't describe the pain. The bleeding was so bad I was rushed to hospital. That is why I am celibate to this day,” remembers Christine Beynis, one of the victims, living in Paris.Stephanie Sinclair, photojournalist, did a series of photographs for an essay on this practice.