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Female Circumcision/Mutilation: a question between Cultural Relativism vs Human Rights.

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Gender and Law Question: Female Circumcision/Mutilation: a question between Cultural Relativism vs Human Rights. " When girls my age were looking after the lambs they would talk amoung themselves about their circumcision experiences and look at each other's genitals to see who had the smallesr opening. Everytime the other girls showed their infibulated genitals, I would feel ashamed as I was not yet circumcised. One day I could not stand ot any longer, I took a razor blade and went to an isolated place. I tied my c******s with a thred, and while pulling at the thread with one hand I tried to cut part of my c******s. When I felt the pain and saw the blood coming from the cut I stopped ........i was only seven" Chosing this topic was more of a act of bravery as well as interest. As a society we never really understand the amount of pressure we place upon conformity, acceptance and code of conduct. Even worse, as a child, life should be to a certain limit, carefree and daring, adventurous. The prospects of marriage should be taken in to consideration at a later stage even if it based upon cultural and traditional rules. From as far as history can recall, mankid has invente d and created practices that have "intricately" realted to certyain social orders and to traditional codes of behaviour. One of those practices that has survived through history, is that of Female Circumcision. Historians of the like of Herodotus, state that in the fifth century B.C. female circumcision was prcaticed by the Phoenicians, Hittites and Ethiopians s well as the Egyptians. It has also been repoted that there was a time when at least every continent of the world, female circumcision was performed amonsgt various communities1 both old and new. Although many people beliee that the custom has been totally abandoned, it still is being carried out ina number of African countries. ...read more.


At marriage, the authority of the bride is transferred to the spouse' patriline. The respec and economic value of the bride to her patriline and her spouse is dependent upon her unquestioned virginity as demonstrated by the intact corcumcision. Ensuring marriage in a society in which men have been taught that only circumcised women make good wives. Female Circumcision is percieved to control female sexuality and ensure marital chastity. At or before marriage , brides to be are inspected by their prospective marked female in-laws an by their mothers, aunts and other older female relatives. Tradition, custom and religion all contribute to the survival of FGM and it is mostly women who carry out and defend the practice. The families that authorize the procedure believe for the reasons outlined that they are acting in the best interest of future of their daughters. If the family uses the female circumcision to preserve their daughter's virginity this carries a great deal of financial value and respect in FGM practinsing communities. Families try and ensure the greatest financial security for their daughters as well as their own dignity in the eyes of the community. In addition, FGM provides those who perform the procedure with a cource of wealth and social staus. There is the explanation that men are are hard and women are soft and that the soft part of a man's genitals e.g. the prepuse or foreskin and the hard part of the female genitalia e.g. the c******s must be removed in order to make the man truly all hard and the female all soft. Evidently thissounds very much like an all wives tale and has been passed doen form generation to genration, holding no real medical evidence to back it up. Female circumcision also has the function of implanting fear, pain and being ashamed and cast out if not a virgin or chaste wife. The actual day of circumcision is a day of accomplishment and recognition as a full adult member of society. ...read more.


These actions alonmg with governments bans on FGM, have had "encouraging" results. Eradication programmes have also been administered in Sudan, were the locals are drectly involved in the programmes. Amna Abdel Rahman has been working with has been working through organisations such as the Sudan National Committee on Harmful practices, to eradicate FGM. The fact that the programmes are administered by citizens of these countries, as well being part of the United Nations, is taking in to consideration justifiable concerns about Western interference and cultural imperialism. As has been mentioned before, not all African governments have welcomed the efforts to eradicate FGM. In the West Africa Nation of Gambia there haas been certain movements that prohibit any programmes that oppose FGM from being broadcast on state owned radio and television stations and some government members have gone as far as to promote FGM on the television and radio. There have also been some cases where government officials state they will personally fund the practice to continue, and that it has a respectable place in the African society. It may seem that as hard as many groups and organisations are trying to change the current status of this practice, but the attitude of the general public has to change as well. Efforts made by well intentioned Western Forces may even be having the effect of further enrooting the practice. Many Practioners who make a living from undertaking this custom will simply flee to neighbouring countries and continue to practice. 1 Female Circumcision, and article by Dr. A.H. Taba. Regional Director, WHO Eastern Mediterraneam Region. In Traditional Practices affecting the health of women and children, report of a seminar Khartoum, 10-15 February 1979. 2 Female Circumcision- Physical and Mental Complications by Mrs Edna A. Ismail, WHO Temporary Advisor and Director, Dept of Training, Ministry of Health, Somalia. WHO/EMRO Technical Publication No.2 Traditional Practices affecting the health of women and children. 3 Abdallah, 1982; Dareer 1982 4 Butler 1990:33 5 Henrietta Moore's article 1999. 6 http://www.law.emory.edu/EILR/volumes/win96/breitung.html ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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