Status of Main Author

Undergraduate

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2011

Abstract

Many international ethical dilemmas seek to protect human rights, while respecting cultures and traditions. The issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) is no different. FGM is practiced through much of Northern Africa, and parts of the Middle East, and is a deeply entrenched cultural tradition. However, this cultural tradition is not present within certain religious, ethnic, class, or racial lines; rather, the practice spans all sorts of demographic divisions. This creates a uniquely difficult problem to solve, as the origin of FGM is not easily identifiable. Understanding the origin of the practice, the affected demographics, and the social structure that support the perpetuation of FGM is critical to successful reform. I argue that education, empowerment, and positive deviance (i.e. using role models who have chosen to not be circumcised) for both genders are all essential components of any organized response to eradicating FGM.

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