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Ethics Paper On Female Genital Mutilation

2616 words - 10 pages

Throughout history, women traditionally have held subservient roles to men within their prospective cultures. In the last century, women have become more independent both financially and politically. This gain is mostly seen in Western societies such as the United States. Often, in third world countries and patriarchal societies, women are still oppressed by men. Little advancement has been made towards modernization for these women who have fallen victim to the cultural traditions of the past. Many of these women are not allowed to work outside of the home, cannot receive an education, and are not allowed to choose whom they wed. More startling is the fact that even among those women who have gained some form of human rights in these societies, many are still subjected involuntarily to the tradition of female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation. The concern of many, especially human and women's rights groups, is that these women do not have a choice concerning what is done to their bodies. These groups believe female circumcision is mutilation and is a practice designed by men to control women. It is felt that the justification of the practice by those who partake in it does not address its underlying meaning, which is control of women. Female circumcision is immoral because it is a gross violation of human rights, an involuntary mutilation and a technique used to control and demean women.Female circumcision is defined in two ways. The first type of practice is known as clitoridectomy. Clitoridectomy is the excision of the clitoris and the flap of skin around it, performed as part of female initiation rites. It is important to note that the definition also states that the practice is used to curb female sexual desire in certain societies. Many times the process will be followed by infibulation. Infibulation is the stitching together of the vulva, leaving a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual fluid.The history of female genital mutilation goes back thousands of years to the Ancient Egyptians. Women in this society were subject to infibulation, which is also known as pharaonic circumcision. The word pharaonic has its roots in the pharaoh, who circumcised his women as a means to ensure their virginity. In this instance, circumcision is used as a means of control. Men dictated the religious and cultural traditions of Ancient Egypt. Their religion and culture saw women as property that had to remain pure until marriage. Circumcision controlled Egyptian women by serving as an artificial chastity belt. In many other early patriarchal societies such as Egypt, female circumcision was common. However, in egalitarian societies, such as Australia's early tribes, female circumcision is non-existent: "Australian societies were egalitarian, and while the circumcision and sub incision of males were practiced, no genital operations were performed on females. It therefore seems correct to postulate that there may be some...

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