Thursday, April 28, 2005

Genital mutilation...who are we to judge?

There are a number of posters on the message boards of who are so totally out of touch with reality that it is breathtaking. They sit as perfect examples of the crackpot left whose empty and meaningless rhetoric serves the sole purpose of making conservatives look reasonable. The "moral relativism" that Likudnicks and the Pope talk about puts me in the odd place of agreeing with them on this occasion. Witness this particular exchange found on post 132 at this address:

stuck:(that's me)" This is the kind of multiculturalism that makes excuses for cutting women's clitorises off"

MGB2003 (a woman from Canada):"if that was part of their culture, or their knowledge base to date......who are you to judge?? There are many activities in other cultures that the west finds appalling. But then there are cultural factors in the west that they might find appalling too."

To say that we shouldn't judge people who mutilate the sex organs of a woman because of their culture is breathtakingly stupid and an insult to human rights advocates (which this person supposedly is one of) everywhere. Amnesty Internationl has kicked off an international campaign to stop this sort of violence against women. See here

And here is an interesting article on the topic as well:

Cultural Relativism vs. Human Rights
There is serious disagreement about whether the practice of FGM is an issue of cultural relativism or an issue of human rights. Some Western anthropologists have equated the practice of FGM with such Western practices as breast augmentation and tattooing. This agrument is flawed, however, for at least two important reasons. The first is that in both the examples given, the subjects making these decisions must, by law, be adults. This is not the case with FGM, whose subjects are often as young as three. The second flaw in this argument is that neither breast augmentation nor tattoing impede natural body functions, in the way FGM can. The argument has also been made that FGM is analogous to male circumcision, which is a common practice in the West. While it is true that both procedures are cultural traditions that have no real health benefits, there are major differences between the two. The most important difference between FGM and male circumcision is that, again, FGM impedes the natural functioning of the female body in ways that male circumcision does not.

There has also been serious debate within the African American community about FGM. While some African American women see the West's attack on FGM as "ethnocentric," African American novelist Alice Walker has written about her oppostion to the practice. Walker has produced a documentary and published a book, both entitled "Warrior Marks," based on her experiences investigating FGM in Western Africa. In the following footage from the documentary "Women Under Attack," Walker shares an interview from her "Warrior Marks" documentary. If you want to see this video click here.

Many human rights organizations agree with Alice Walker, and view FGM as a violation of human rights, calling for its eradication. In a meeting in Geneva this year, three UN agencies announced efforts to end FGM. These agencies, The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and UNICEF, asked for world support for their goal, calling FGM an "unsafe and unjustifiable traditional practice." Amnesty International has also come out against FGM, saying "the practice is a form of violence and a violation of boldily integrity." Non-Western organizations such as the Egyptian Human Rights Organisation (EOHR) have also joined this capaign. Egypt has been a battleground in the struggle to eradicate FGM, where the practice is currently banned. The goal of EOHR is to teach Egyptians "the harms of the operation to both individuals and society and to clarify that this pagan custom has no connection with Islam."


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