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Alternatives to Female Genital Mutilation in Western Africa. FGM is best understood not as an isolated phenomenon but rather as the tip of the iceberg of asymmetrical gender relations. -Emanuela Finke 1. What is FGM?.
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FGM is best understood not as an isolated phenomenon but rather as the tip of the iceberg of asymmetrical gender relations.
Image source: http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/fgm/fig1.htm
Procedure is often performed in an unclean, unsterile environment
Women who perform procedure are often unskilled
Women are at risk for serious infections and complications
Most convincing argument is that most women who agree to procedure do so under heavy influence from friends and family
Claire Chambers proposes first order and second order autonomy in order to examine the issue of FGM.
First order autonomy concerns the attitude one has to the rules and norms that are a part of life
A person is first-order autonomous if she critically examines rules and norms and follows only those that she endorses
Second order autonomy concerns the way that one comes to lead a particular way of life. A person is second-order autonomous if she chooses or endorses the overall conception of the good that she follows.
Is inadequate in dealing with injustices resulting from culture
Prioritizes individuals’ ability to adhere to even those preferences which have been shown to be socially constructed and thus imperfect guides to justice
1st order and 2nd order autonomy are better apt to address FGM
60% of girls and women undergo the practice of FGM
Only after undergoing FGM is a girl rendered marriageable
Other reasons for FGM: chastity, rite of passage, social standing
The operation distinguishes those who have undergone the operation from those who have not.
Studies have proven centrality of nuclear family/extended family in decision to undergo ceremonial cutting
Assumption that any girl who chooses to perform this practice is most likely second order autonomous
Claire Chambers argues that state has a right to intervene on behalf of affected girls and women
She argues that FGM is a right infringement because girls and women are afforded little autonomy in which to decide whether or not to undergo the procedure
Argues that practice is unjust and unequal