When Rights and Cultures Collide written by Karen Musalo - Essay Example

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This essay describes the article ‘When Rights and Cultures Collide’ written by Karen Musalo represents a real-life story of Fauziya Kasinga, a teenager form Togo. The article highlights the evil practice of Female Genital Mutilation prevalent in many African, Middle East and Asian countries…
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When Rights and Cultures Collide written by Karen Musalo
The article ‘When Rights and Cultures Collide’ written by Karen Musalo represents a real life story of Fauziya Kasinga, a teenager form Togo, West Africa. The article highlights the evil practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) prevalent in many African, Middle East and Asian countries. Accordingly, the author firmly denounces the practice of female genital mutilation and considers it to be a violation of internationally protected human rights. In this regard, the author strives to draw the attention towards the treaties such as the ‘Convention to Eliminate Discrimination against Women’ which strongly proscribes distinctions made on gender basis. It has been argued that there persist many cultures that deny the equal rights of women. The article attempts to highlight the prevailing controversy between the concepts of universality of human rights and cultural relativism. Conceptually, universality is considered to be an essential characteristic related to human rights. Accordingly, human rights are ascertained to be the rights that are applicable to all human beings and thus it is considered to be universal. Evidently, the universality of human rights advocates that all human beings are the holders of human rights regardless of what they do and where they live. In addition, universality also proclaims that human beings possess human rights independent for their national citizenship and community. Conversely, cultural relativism is regarded as a principle which affirms that all beliefs, ethics, customs and activities are relative to an individual human being within his/her own cultural context. Correspondingly, it states that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are primarily culture-specific and argues that there does not prevail any universal standards of morality and no one possesses the right to judge customs of another society (Musalo, “When Rights and Cultures Collide”).
The article stresses on the importance of modern international human rights law and firmly acknowledges the widespread need for international unanimity regarding the protection of basic human rights. It also reveals that treaties, declarations and conventions conscripted to safeguard the basic human rights are in direct conflict with cultural practices such FGM. The article propagates that many countries across the world have ignored certain basic human rights such as freedom of thought, religion and morality. The article attempts to reveal the thinking of cultural relativists and asserts that they often consider culture as an essential attribute to self-determination related with people’s sovereignty. The article admits that cultural relativists may find international standards as little more than legal statements framed by powerful nations predominately engaged in modern ‘Colonization’ by imposing their declaration on less powerful nations of the world. In this regard, the article illustrates that international norms are not drafted by a few powerful nations but are framed by the representatives from diverse nations. Concurrently, the article stresses on the view of proponents of universality that international human standards have the moral authority as they promote world community’s unanimity regarding the ethical behavior between governments and their citizens. The article concluded that international human rights norms should be universally applied for providing all people across the world the potential benefits of their protection (Musalo, “When Rights and Cultures Collide”).
The views expressed by Karen Musalo in her article ‘When Rights and Cultures Collide’ can be firmly agreed upon. In this regard, every individual in the world has the right to express themselves. Everyone born in this world is entitled to possess similar rights independent of their gender, race, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. It can be affirmed that human rights are integral to the dignity of every individual. Responsively, all human rights are equal and cannot be placed in a hierarchical order. The denial of any right leads to the violation of another right. Thus, the right of any individual cannot be compromised at the cost of other rights. Nonetheless, it can be argued that it is coherent that the emergence of human rights is fundamentally tied up with believes and fundamentals equated to west. In this regard, it can be stated that the doctrine of human rights may be equated to western and Universalists but it does not mean that differences in culture cannot be abridged or accommodated. Conversely, cultural relativism can be identified as an inherent danger imposed to fundamental rights of an individual. Thus, it is crucial to frame realistic strategies to promote human security and rights across the world. Furthermore, the promotion of universality of human rights requires the transformation in terms of legal and community aspects. Correspondingly, it is crucial to understand that no culture is perfect or right but everyone should respect the culture of others and avoid extremism and irrationality to promote universality related to human rights.
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Musalo, Karen. When Rights and Cultures Collide. Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, 2010. Web. 23 Sep. 2013. . Read More
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