Title

A Campaign to End Female Genital Mutilation: An Argument Based on Common Grounds

Presenter Information

Tess Carlson

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a significant and longstanding tradition practiced by select cultures. It is also a serious human rights violation that has caused damaging psychological and physical pain to an estimated 100-140 million women throughout the world. FGM involves the surgical removal of all or part of female external genitalia and is thought by its practitioners to curb women’s sexual desire. Despite its widespread legal prohibition, FGM is still widely practiced in 28 African countries, parts of the Middle East and India, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe.

In the summer of 2011, I had the opportunity to work with a non-governmental organization, the Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD), on their campaign to end FGM. Through my work at FORWARD, I became committed to ending the practice of FGM by addressing the social constructs that perpetuate it. This paper describes and defends a certain method of advocacy, which I call the ‘grassroots approach,’ as the best way to abolish this practice. The grassroots approach works to create a shared awareness and understanding of FGM’s damaging effects, ultimately allowing women to make informed decisions on behalf of themselves and their families. By presenting this paper I hope to demonstrate that it is both possible and necessary to advocate for the abolition of harmful traditions in a way that is sensitive to cultural differences.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 13th, 9:00 AM Apr 13th, 9:20 AM

A Campaign to End Female Genital Mutilation: An Argument Based on Common Grounds

UC 332

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a significant and longstanding tradition practiced by select cultures. It is also a serious human rights violation that has caused damaging psychological and physical pain to an estimated 100-140 million women throughout the world. FGM involves the surgical removal of all or part of female external genitalia and is thought by its practitioners to curb women’s sexual desire. Despite its widespread legal prohibition, FGM is still widely practiced in 28 African countries, parts of the Middle East and India, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe.

In the summer of 2011, I had the opportunity to work with a non-governmental organization, the Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD), on their campaign to end FGM. Through my work at FORWARD, I became committed to ending the practice of FGM by addressing the social constructs that perpetuate it. This paper describes and defends a certain method of advocacy, which I call the ‘grassroots approach,’ as the best way to abolish this practice. The grassroots approach works to create a shared awareness and understanding of FGM’s damaging effects, ultimately allowing women to make informed decisions on behalf of themselves and their families. By presenting this paper I hope to demonstrate that it is both possible and necessary to advocate for the abolition of harmful traditions in a way that is sensitive to cultural differences.