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1. Cultural Relativism, Moral Universalism And
Female Genital Cutting (FGC)
2. What is cultural relativism? Began as a rejection of the 19th century social Darwinist theory that help European culture to the at the top of evolution and other cultures to be primitive.
At the time it was introduced it was seen as a moral force for tolerance (Boas, Benedict, Mead, Herskovis).
3. Types of cultural relativism Descriptive acknowledgement of the diversity of beliefs and behaviors across cultures.
Normative an acceptance of each cultures moral judgments as acceptable for that culture.
Epistemological questions how one can comprehend the others reality sufficiently to make an evaluative judgment.
4. What is moral universalism? Most closely associated with a human rights based approach and suggests that some practices are never acceptable in any culture and that as such, those outside the culture have a right (in addition to those within the culture), to advocate for universal normative behaviors across cultures.
5. The Rights-Based Framework Yet some human rights scholars (such as A. Slack), have identified two major opposing human rights concerns:
The right of cultural self-determination (cultural relativism);
The right not to be subjected to a traditional practice that might be harmful (moral universalism).
6. Controversial topics Often include those involving the welfare of children or other vulnerable groups such as:
Female genital circumcision;
7. Cultural relativism and moral universalism and FGC FGC is one area within which the seeming impasse between the two perspectives have become particularly pronounced.
FGM is typically performed on young girls between the ages of 4-12 years old.
It is practiced in 28 countries in Africa (8 of which have prevalence rates of 50% of higher), and additional countries elsewhere (including Yemen, Israel, Pakistan and India).
90% = prevalence rates among some communities in Egypt (UNDP study in various villages in Upper Egypt).
8. Female Genital Cutting or Mutilation (FGC/FGM) According to WHO's definition: female genital mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of female external genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reasons.
In 1991, the term Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was adopted at the Inter-Africa Committee Regional Conference on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, held in Burkina-Faso.
9. TYPES of FGC/FGM According to WHO, female genital cutting is classified into four types, as follows:
Type 1: Excision of the prepuce with or without excision of part or the entire clitoris.
Type II: Excision of the clitoris together with partial or total excision of the labia minora.
Type III: Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).
10. TYPES of FGC/FGM Type IV: Unclassified type that includes the following practices:
Pricking, piercing or incision of the clitoris and/or labia.
Stretching of the clitoris and/or labia.
Cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissues.
Scraping (angurya cuts) or cutting (gishri cuts) of the vagina or surrounding tissue.
Introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina.
Any other procedure that falls under the definition of female genital mutilation given above.
11. Associated Problems Medical complications can be severe and include death, often as a result of infections.
Often limits sexual enjoyment.
12. Associated Benefits May make those who participate feel special, that they have gained entry into womanhood, create or enhance a sense of belonging.
Often improves marriage prospects.
13. Feedback from those who have undergone the procedure Several studies with women who have been circumcised indicate that the vast majority of those who have undergone the procedure are pleased that they were circumcised and plan to do the same for their daughters.
Other research indicates that those who do not undergo the procedure may be socially ostracized in some cultures and considered unmarriageable.
14. Group exercise Consider both perspectives within the framework of your own value system.
How would you support a family that came to you requesting affordable housing, employment, and/or access to education, if you subsequently discovered that they were planning to circumcise their 7 year old daughter and did not see the impending circumcision as a concern?