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Female Circumcision - Essay Example

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Female circumcision is a controversial practice that acts as a nexus for a number of different cultural, political and religious influences, making it difficult to examine and even more difficult to change and/or curtail. As Njambi (2004) suggests, female circumcision "brings together women's health, activism, media, and national and international policy-making in pursuit of the common goal of eradicating such practices." At the same time, there are perhaps wider cultural contexts regarding a leftover from the tendency of Europeans/Americans to regard Africa (where most circumcisions occur) as a 'dark' and 'barbaric' place…
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Female Circumcision
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Female Circumcision

Download file to see previous pages... As a woman who has actually had female circumcision done to her, Njambi offers a unique perspective upon the practice, and she is particularly compelling in regards to the fact that the anti-FGM campaign perpetuates a "colonialist assumption by universalizing a particular western image of a 'normal' body and sexuality in its quest to liberate women and girls." (Njambi, 2004).
Njambi presents an interesting paradox. It might be expected that a feminist scholar would be vehemently opposed to a practice that, on face value at least, seems to embody the male oppression of women over the millennia. Yet this is complicated by the fact that she is putting an anti-colonialist overlay onto her normal feminist analysis. Uses of the word "barbaric" by anti-FGM activists suggest the dehumanization of the cultures that are practicing the tradition.
In her response to Njambi's article, Davies suggests that a number ...
Davies raises the question of whether "moral outrage" is really appropriate and whether it actually is ever pristine in nature or whether is always reflects a deeper bias against the culture. In other words, can female circumcision be taken out of the wider cultural context within which it is being seen One might ask the question of whether Njambi's own personal experience of circumcision and the culture that it places her within makes her an unlikely source for objective wisdom on the subject. The question raised is an interesting one.
A sensible question arising from the points offered by Njambi and Davies is, if female circumcision is not to be condemned, what practice would be condemned Perhaps a supreme kind of cultural relativism should be maintained in which no practice belonging to another culture should be fought against for fear of appearing biased or prejudiced. If, for example, a culture had a practice of marrying five year old girls to grown men, and this included sexual relations between them - should that be condemned Does an attempt at being culturally sensitive leave people completely powerless to comment upon let alone change practices that they regards as repellant
Perhaps some light can be shed on the situation by scholars within a discipline that revolves around the analysis of culture and the problems that come with the nature cultural biases of the researcher: anthropology. Ellen Gruenbaum (2000) suggests that female circumcision is a more complex subject than both supporters and detractors suggest, not only because of the moral uncertainties involved, but also due to the fact that "the practices themselves vary: what is removed at surgery, at what age it occurs" (Gruenbaum, 2000). Arguments regarding female circumcision tend ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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