Consistency

Finally, scrutiny has revealed apparent contradictions in the beliefs and attitudes associated with the rites. For example, on the one hand people from those regions say that nothing is given up because women cannot enjoy sex, but on the other hand they say that the rites are needed to control women who mighty be sexually out of control without the surgeries (Kopelman, 1994, 1997). (This fear that girls will be sexually promiscuous is a frequently given reason for doing the surgery in the West, where girls and young women have considerable freedom compared with the situation in their original homelands.) Another apparent inconsistency concerns insistence that respect for cultural mores requires that deeply embedded cultural views about female genital cutting must be respected in the adopted countries even if this means violating the deeply embedded views of the dominant culture of the new land. It is inconsistent to insist that their deeply embedded views must be respected—but not those of other cultures. Finally, some say that there is no way to determine what is right when cultures disagree but also insist on transcultural universal normative principles such as "every culture counts for one," "preserve ancient cultures," and "when in Rome do as the Romans do."

Worldwide attention to female genital mutilation and cutting rituals since the 1980s has made those rites the center of controversy about practical and theoretical issues concerning human rights, ethical relativism, and the limits of tolerance of cultural diversity. Medical studies document the resultant morbidity, mortality, and disabilities and the resulting lack of sexual sensitivity and satisfaction for millions of women. Proposals by activists in those regions include stopping clinicians from participating in the rites and adopting and enforcing meaningful legislation, but many people believe that education about the harms of genital cutting and infibulation may be the most important way to stop the practices (El Dareer; Abdalla; Dirie and Lindmark; Toubia).

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