Female Genital Mutilation

Topics: Utilitarianism, Female genital cutting, Vulva Pages: 5 (1772 words) Published: December 1, 2010
Is Female Genital Mutilation A Moral Practice

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not a morally justified practice. It is an unnecessary procedure that has no medical health benefits to the girls and women it is being performed on. According to Utilitarianism, we should produce the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number affected. Utilitarian’s also believe that we should alleviate the greatest amount of pain and suffering for the greatest number affected. Based on Utilitarian grounds, FGM has no medical health benefits and it is a completely unnecessary act on females in this culture. It is also an extremely painful procedure that has very serious short term and long term side effects, including death. Jeremy Bentham, an Act Utilitarian, developed the hedonic calculus, which is a “scientific” methodology for determining which pleasures ought to be pursued and which pains ought to be avoided. FGM is an example of the pains that “ought” to be avoided. This principle enables individuals to provide good reasons for their course of action. When we are deliberating about the right thing to do, Bentham maintains that we must always account for the pleasures and pains. Examples of this are the intensity, duration, certainty or uncertainty, remoteness, fecundity, purity and extent of the pleasure or pain. In order to understand why FGM is not a morally justified practice and why it goes against the principles of Utilitarianism, you have to know what FGM is. You need to learn who it is being performed on and what age, why it is being done, where it is happening, how it is performed, and what short term and long term side effects occur, after this procedure has been done. The pain and suffering that is resulting from this procedure is going against the greatest happiness principle of Utilitarianism. There is a reason why it is no longer called female circumcision and is now being referred to as female genital mutilation. FGM is an un-safe, un-sterile procedure that is taking place in many foreign countries around the world including Egypt, the Sudan, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Malaysia (Winter, Par. 6). FGM harms girls and women in these cultures by causing them severe pain and multiple serious side effects. According to the hedonic calculus, and the principle of intensity, it states that some pleasures and pains are more intense than others. The girls or women in this culture are being put through an extreme amount of intense pain for no beneficial reason. The procedure is being done by midwives or older “experienced” women in the villages that do not have any medical training and are not educated in the field of medicine. Not only is FGM a dangerous procedure, but it also has physical, sexual and mental consequences (Amnesty International USA, Par. 3). According to the World Health Organization, this practice has many serious side effects including shock, hemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue (Par. 13). Other side effects can include death, serious infections, HIV, abscesses, small benign tumors, and clitoral cysts (wolvesdream, Par. 5). The World Health Organization has also reported many long term consequences which include; recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths (Par. 14). It can also lead to a need for later surgeries in life (Par. 14). For example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening needs to be cut open later in life to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth (Par. 14). In this same procedure, women could be cut and stitched repeatedly, leading to further complications and more long term risks. Along with the high risk of short term and long term side effects, the biggest issue resulting from this procedure is death. FGM is the removal of all or part of the...
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