Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Circumcision of women as an African Tribe tradition - Should this be allowed?

While the circumcision of men has been medically proven to be beneficial, the circumcision of women is quite the different story. Certain tribes in Africa circumcise women to prevent them from experiencing any pleasure, so as to fulfill their reproductive functions without engaging in the 'shameful' act of sex. This circumcision takes place before the girl reaches puberty and is done against her will. Not only are the methods unsanitary, they are also medieval and thereby cause excessive pain to the unwilling women. Should such procedures be allowed without the consent of the bearer? Is this not a gross violation of the rights of so many young women who have had no say in the matter?

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

The circumcision of males has NOT been "medically proven to be beneficial" and even if it had, doing it to babies would remain a human rights violation. Male circumcision was instituted in the western world to prevent boys from, or punish them for, masturbating. All the medical "reasons" were invented one after another when that one lost its power. The science used to defend it is shonky in the extreme. (The studies showing it has no effect on sex did not look at the foreskin; the HIV trials were not double blinded and were cut short, and the circumcised men got more safe-sex information than the control group; the widely-touted Sexually Transmitted Infection study was anomalous, and found that 20+ babies would have to be circumcised in vain to prevent one minor STI; etc). No genital cutting of girls or boys! Human Rights 4 All!

Anonymous said...

It has been proven that male circumcision reduces the risk of aids to men.

Libby said...

Circumcision of women in many African Tribes is clearly cultural and to them, a valuable practice. However, FGM is considered a human rights violation as it is performed against the girl or woman's will and can not only cause serious infections but also increase health risks during childbirth. While considerable divergences in interpretation of human rights exist between cultures and civilizations worldwide, FGM is still practiced in 28 countries and 120 million women and girls worldwide are still affected by it. This means that there needs to be a much larger effort made against FGM for a difference to be made. There are many women educating others on the risks and encouraging female circumcisers to perform FGM safely, but I think this needs to be taken a step further with more participation in the campaign worldwide for the practice to actually slow down and eventually cease in these African tribes.

Tigist said...

Although many oppose the practice of female genital mutilation, in many cultures and religions it is seen as the norm. According to Donnelly, cultural relativism is “the view that the distribution of any society of the rights and obligations of persons, peoples, and government is always the product (and rightly so) of that particular society’s culture and unique historical experience.” Therefore, people have the right to give their daughters circumcision because it is the belief of their culture or religion. One’s belief should be interpreted by one’s culture, so others should not dictate what the right belief should be for other individuals. If the girls were not circumcised, they probably would be ostracized from their community, which ultimately would not be in the girls favor. Overall, the practice of female genital mutilation should be parent’s own belief not beliefs by others. The government should not infringe on people’s religious and culture practices.

Abby said...

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all subject to a limited perspective due to our cultural confinement. Growing up in a particular cultural atmosphere, we are exposed to cultural practices and traditions that become “familiar” and “acceptable.” All the while, we pass judgment on the unfamiliar practices of cultures outside of our own. This is, of course, a generalization; however, in my experience I find it to be fairly accurate.

Female genital mutilation, in my opinion, is abominable. I think that it is most definitely something that should be eradicated from the world; however, there are practices that exist within our own cultural realm that we overlook. Michael Fay
was an American teenager who was sentenced to be publicly caned after vandalizing property in Singapore. Bill Clinton spoke against this sentence, calling it “abominable.” However, what Bill Clinton failed to recognize was the fact that, at this time, within our own national borders we were sentencing human beings to death via electrocution. Capital punishment is familiar. We have grown up with it. Does this mean that it is humane?

I remember going to a museum a few years ago and seeing photographs of body modification practices in Africa where women wear metal braces around their necks to push down their collarbones giving their necks an extended appearance. People gasped and made disgusted faces upon seeing these photographs. However, these same people probably never stop to consider the odd and unnecessary Western body modification practices, such as breast implants.

Despite arguments for cultural relativism, I believe that it is reasonable to encourage the eradication of FGM on a universal scale. However, I think we should reexamine our own practices as well. Simply because a practice is familiar and has been accepted for years, doesn’t mean that overtime it shouldn’t change.

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