Judging the Other: Responding to Traditional Female Genital Surgeries
Lane, Sandra D.
Rubinstein, Robert A.
Hastings Center Report. 1996 May-Jun; 26(3): 31-40.
Western feminists, physicians, and ethicists condemn the traditional genital surgeries performed on women in some non-Western cultures. But coming to moral judgment is not the end of the story; we must also decide what to do about our judgments. We must learn to work respectfully with, not independently of, local resources for cultural self-examination and change....Perhaps the most important rationale for female circumcision is that because it is such an ancient and commonly practiced tradition, reduced or infibulated genitals are simply considered normal....Some parents explained that now that the husbands become migrant laborers for years-long periods female circumcision is a protection against dishonor, since it is believed to calm women's sexual needs....Many feminists from Egypt and Sudan noted that, from their point of view, women in Europe and North America face serious discrimination as well, and they were critical of Western feminists' failure to link female circumcision with violence against women, child prostitution, breast enlargement surgery, and rape....When Western authors call for the practice to be eradicated in Africa or Asia it is too often perceived by members of the involved societies as cultural imperialism.
Anthropology; Attitudes; Children; Circumcision; Consent; Developing Countries; Discrimination; Ethical Relativism; Ethicists; Females; Female Circumcision; Government; Health; Historical Aspects; Human Rights; Informed Consent; Methods; Morbidity; Motivation; Parents; Paternalism; Physicians; Political Activity; Rape; Regulation; Religion; Rights; Sexuality; Surgery; Violence; Women's Health; Women's Rights;
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