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August 18, 2004

Female Genital Mutilation

I've sat and had conversations with otherwise rational people who insist that I, being a white, American male, cannot judge the activities of people in other cultures. They insist that there is no culture that is "better" (they almost always use the little finger motion to indicate that better is really just an illusion) than any other culture, and that the reasons and differences of all cultures should be appreciated for the beautiful things that they are.

When it comes to haiku, traditional Basque music, and such, I'm inclined to agree with them. But when it comes to things like female genital mutilation, I'm more than happy to insist that my culture (which doesn't indulge this barbaric and vile practice) most certainly is better than those cultures that do accept the practice.

Police in Burkina Faso have arrested 14 people for carrying out female genital mutilation on girls aged between 2 and 10 years, a campaign group in the West African country said today.

One of the 16 victims would have bled to death without immediate medical help because her arteries were severed during the procedure, medics said. Adama Barry, who has four previous convictions for practising female circumcision, was arrested with 13 other people after an anonymous tip-off to the National Committee for the Fight against Excision (CNLPE).

Thank God the tide is turning against this kind of barbarism--but the practice is too widespread to see it vanish overnight (or, indeed, in the near future).

I've been asked whether I feel comfortable judging another culture, and my answer is that I'm comfortable judging the actions of other cultures. This is one of the acts that I have no problem judging as wrong--and I don't even need scare quotes to give it the proper post-ironic twist.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at August 18, 2004 01:26 PM

Not sure how come I missed this one!
It is not a question of judging another culture. To assign FGM as a cultural practice is to insult that culture and the women. FGM is about patriarchy - power of men over women, of old over young. It is about control of women's bodies by men: fathers, brothers, husbands. It is abuse,it is brutal and as a Black woman I am sick and tired of people trying to hide behind "culture" in defense of FGM or the criticism of it.

Posted by: owukori at August 22, 2004 05:06 AM

Amen to that.

Posted by: zombyboy at August 24, 2004 11:23 AM

Just out of curiosity, is there another possibility as to why this was happening? If it's such a "cultural craze" then my question is why? The possibility of other things arise in my mind as to why.

Posted by: Hillary at September 2, 2004 08:01 AM

FGM is so horrible, i can't stress it. I'm also finishing up a website on FGM, basically Female Equality. Have a good one.

Posted by: Alina at February 18, 2005 03:48 PM
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