THE CASE OF FEMALE GENITAL `MUTILATION:
THE TENSION BETWEEN
CULTURAL RELATIVISM AND UNIVERSALISM
Dianne Camille T. Corales
University of the Philippines Mindanao
Department of Social Sciences, BA Anthropology
Over the past years, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation has received an increasing global attention and mass condemnation from the West in general along with the Feminists and Human Rights Advocates. According to the statistics of UNICEF in 2013, Female Genital Mutilation is known to be prevalent in 27 African countries, Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan, where 125 million women and girls have experienced the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. Women and girls who have experienced the removal of their external genitalia have suffered it's consequences which includes: severe pain, bleeding, shock, difficulty in passing urine, difficulties in labour, decreased and post-traumatic stress disorder, infections and sometimes even death (WHO,2014).
The issue on Female Genital Mutilation created a moral dilemma creating intellectual debates between the side of the Cultural Relativists and Universalists. In the side of Relativists, states that there is a need for respect for all the customs, practices and beliefs in every culture and the moral codes were not inevitably acclaimed. While on the side of Universalists, argues that people are interconnected by a certain cause through the universality of human rights. They regard Female Genital Mutilation as an act of violence and an abuse to the human rights of women (Danial, 2013).
The study conducted by Kerubo K.R (2010) entitled: “Female Genital Mutilation and its Effects on Women and Young Girls” was mainly focused on the experiences of women, the consequences involved before and after the mutilation, cultural beliefs, religious views on the practice, and the human rights that were violated by the practice of female genital mutilation. However, her study lacked information about the theories that could be integrated in her study,
the discourse between Cultural Relativism and Universalism in relation to Female Genital Mutilation, necessary recommendations that would serve as a springboard for other researchers who would have a related study about the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. Female Genital Mutilation reflects deep-rooted inequality between sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. Prevalence in many areas remains high and there is an urgent need to intensify, expand and improve efforts to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation. The purpose of the study is to investigate and uncover truths and facts about the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. In line with this, it aims to address the issue through the perspectives of Cultural Relativism and Universalism along with the Feminist Theory for a better understanding of how this practice affects the women and young girls in the society. Female Genital Mutilation is considered globally as a practice depicting violence and great gender inequality in the society, women and girls on participating countries are the beneficiaries of the study as it aims to uphold and empower their rights under the said practice. With this study, people around the globe would be aware of the prevalence of the practice and it is in them which side they would be in.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
This study is conducted to determine the side of Cultural Relativism versus the side of Universalism on the issue of Female Genital Mutilation. Specifically, this study is designed to respond to the following questions:
1. What are the reasons behind the practice of Female Genital Mutilation? 2. What are the risks and consequences of Female Genital Mutilation to the girls and women? 3. How can the Radical Feminist Theory be integrated in the study Female Genital Mutilation? 4. What are the propositions of the Radical Feminist Theory to Female Genital Mutilation?...
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