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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Genital mutilation violates human rights

Globalization has knocked down many barriers which previously kept cultures shielded and mysterious. People who represent different cultures meet, greet and co-mingle, which has helped in fostering a greater understanding and respect for the many different types of people on this planet. There is an importance to respecting people of different cultures and the customs of such cultures.

However, when does a cultural custom become something to be abhorred?

In my opinion that point is when human rights are compromised, when a person is placed in a dangerous or unhealthy position. One such example is “female circumcision,” better known as genital mutilation.

In genital mutilation, parts of a young girl’s clitoris or labia are removed. In some cases, the labia is actually sown together, in a procedure called “infibulation.” This “surgery” is performed on girls who are between the ages or 4-12.

Female genital mutilation is done for several reasons, religious, honor, hygiene, fertility or to control a girl’s sexuality.

The repercussions of genital mutilation are vast. The removal is usually done with an instrument that isn’t sterilized, and as a result girls who have received female circumcision often contract infections, and are twice as likely to die in childbirth.

I understand the importance of respecting other people and their cultures, but how can anyone respect a culture practice which places young women in danger of infection, deformity and, in some instances, death.

Coming from western culture, I approach the genital mutilation with my western values, and I have a very hard time grasping the reasons behind this custom. Also, looking at genital mutilation, I feel it’s a gross violation of human rights.

Some of the reasons, mainly the attempt to control a girl’s sexuality, behind female genital mutilation, particularly to control a daughter’s sexuality, angers me endlessly! The ritual is inherently sexist, no matter if it’s a woman or a man performing the surgery.

More than that, it’s dangerous and I cannot fathom how the women performing the ritual can lack sympathy for the young girls they are about to inflict severe pain upon.

Genital mutilation is not tolerated in either America or England. In England, if you are convicted of practicing genital mutilation, you receive a maximum of 14 years in jail. If you are caught in America, you can get up to 40 years in prison.

Not only is genital mutilation outlawed by both America and England, it goes against the Article 5 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

In my book, and many others, genital mutilation is both degrading and torturous.

Despite its illegality and harsh repercussions for performing the act of Genital Mutilation, people still practice this custom.

In England, parents fly elders from African villages to perform the rituals on their daughters, and currently in America, an Atlanta man was received a 40 year jail sentence after his 7 year old daughter told the court that he had “cut me on my private part” with a pair of scissors.

America has long had a reputation as being a melting pot, but being at the forefront of the modern world there’s just no room for archaic and inhumane customs like Genital Mutilation.

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