Breastfeeding and Female Circumcision

Breastfeeding a public health issue

In the article “Breastfeeding a public health” issue posted in savvy consumer April 12 2010, the author Sally Greenberg looks at the importance of breastfeeding babies during their first six months. It could save up to 900 babies and billions of dollars every year. Many babies die of diseases such as asthma, which are preventable by breastfeeding.

Benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding saves billions economically because the cost of treating preventable diseases is reduced. The losses incurred in lost potential incomes by the deaths of the babies are saved. This is because breast milk gives babies antibodies that help to fight diseases. Furthermore, breast milk is free and readily available as opposed to the expensive formula milk that contains lesser benefits than a mother’s milk. More importantly, breastfeeding bonds the mother and the baby.

Reasons for not breastfeeding

Some babies fail to learn how to breastfeed and thus mothers result in formula. Some working mothers may fail to keep up with all the work involved in pumping milk for the baby when they cannot bring them to work and stop to breastfeed.

Awareness about breastfeeding

Mothers need education about the benefits of breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months. Employers should be included in the campaign and legislation formulated requiring them to allow nursing mothers to take care of their babies at work by provision of a space to do so. Hospitals should lead by example and stop giving newborns formula before they are breastfed and discourage advertisement of formula in hospitals. Mothers who can and are willing to breastfeed their babies for the fist six mothers should receive all support that they need.

A cutting tradition

In “A Cutting Tradition” in the New York Times magazine January 20 2008, the author Sara Corbet shows us the process of female circumcision or cutting in Indonesia. The cutting is free and takes place every spring under the sponsorship of the Assalaam Foundation. Little blood is shed in the process and the genitalia cleaned with an antiseptic the girl is taken to a waiting room and given a celebratory gift. Many girls under fourteen years have been circumcised.

Age and reasons for circumcision

Circumcision has three benefits1) makes a girl’s libido stable 2) makes her beautiful for her husband and 3) balances a girl’s psychology. To some it is a rite of passage. Moreover, the predominantly Muslim Indonesian society views circumcision as a religious duty and thus must be fulfilled.

Types of circumcisions

Ritualistic circumcision involves rubbing the genitals with turmeric and pricking the clitoris for drop of blood as a symbol of passage. The other one is cutting of the clitoris or genital mutilation as defined by the World health organization. About 82 percent of circumcisions according to a study in 2003 involved the cutting of the clitoris.

Change of female circumcision perspective

There is growing awareness about the negatives of female circumcision in the society but no laws ban the practice even though medical practitioners are banned from practicing it by the ministry of health. The ban cannot be enforced without the backing of the religious leaders because circumcision is a religious duty. To change the perception of this society will require the understanding of the importance of the practice in the culture and telling the society about the many things female circumcision takes away from the young girls. This is because society only looks at what it brings upon a girl and the mothers who take their children to the cut believe it is good for them.


Corbet, S. (2008) A Cutting Tradition.

Greenberg, S. (2010). Breastfeeding a public health.