Presentation on theme: "Alternatives to Female Genital Mutilation in Western Africa"— Presentation transcript:
1 Alternatives to Female Genital Mutilation in Western Africa FGM is best understood not as an isolated phenomenon but rather as the tip of the iceberg of asymmetrical gender relations.-Emanuela Finke1
2 What is FGM?Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM, is the traditional practice of cutting and/or removing parts of the female genitalia.It is often viewed as a passage into womanhood and a necessity for marriage.The WHO categorizes FGM into four types, from removing a part of the clitoris to full excision of the clitoris and cutting of the labia minora and majora, and artificial closure of the vagina. More information can be found at the WHO website.
4 Where is FGM practiced?Practiced in 28 African countries, some others in the Middle East and Asia2WHO estimates million girls have undergone FGM3 million girls per year are at risk
5 Why is FGM practiced? Tradition Perceived religious requirement (not actually required in any religion)Marriage eligibilityRite of passage into womanhoodGeography and neighbors’ practicesMark of statusLack of knowledge about medical consequences
6 Arguments for the Elimination of FGM Procedure is often performed in an unclean, unsterile environmentWomen who perform procedure are often unskilledWomen are at risk for serious infections and complicationsMost convincing argument is that most women who agree to procedure do so under heavy influence from friends and family6
7 A New Framework For Examination of FGM Claire Chambers proposes first order and second order autonomy in order to examine the issue of FGM.First order autonomy concerns the attitude one has to the rules and norms that are a part of lifeA person is first-order autonomous if she critically examines rules and norms and follows only those that she endorsesSecond order autonomy concerns the way that one comes to lead a particular way of life. A person is second-order autonomous if she chooses or endorses the overall conception of the good that she follows.
8 Political LiberalismIs inadequate in dealing with injustices resulting from culturePrioritizes individuals’ ability to adhere to even those preferences which have been shown to be socially constructed and thus imperfect guides to justice1st order and 2nd order autonomy are better apt to address FGM
10 The Case of Gambia 60% of girls and women undergo the practice of FGM Only after undergoing FGM is a girl rendered marriageableOther reasons for FGM: chastity, rite of passage, social standingThe operation distinguishes those who have undergone the operation from those who have not.
11 The Case of Gambia (con’t) Studies have proven centrality of nuclear family/extended family in decision to undergo ceremonial cuttingAssumption that any girl who chooses to perform this practice is most likely second order autonomous
12 Responsibilities of the State Claire Chambers argues that state has a right to intervene on behalf of affected girls and womenShe argues that FGM is a right infringement because girls and women are afforded little autonomy in which to decide whether or not to undergo the procedureArgues that practice is unjust and unequal
14 Tostan in SenegalStarted in 1997 in Senegal as a community empowerment programNot initially meant to stop FGM, but has since been successful in over 2000 communitiesImplements a 4-pronged education approach:Women’s health, problem solving, hygiene, and human rights
15 Tostan in SenegalRelies on community rather than individual decision-makingUses traditional teaching methods: drama, music, discussionsPublic “abandonment” ceremony with multiple villages hold communities accountable for their decisions4
16 ImplicationsTostan is successful because it teaches the skills and knowledge to create social change in the community, rather than applying Western ideals to African societyThe FGM-abandonment program was conceived of by women in Tostan’s first education program - Tostan facilitates and supports their curriculumKnowledge and choice makes the program effective, more than any other characteristic
17 ReferencesFinke, Emanuela. Genital Mutilation as an Expression of Power Structures: Ending FGM through Education, Empowerment of Women and Removal of Taboos. African Journal of Reproductive Health, Vol. 10, No. 2, August, 2006, ppTostan. Tostan Resources on Female Genital Cutting.WHO. Female Genital Mutilation.Diop, Nafissatou J.,Modou Mbacke Faye, Amadou Moreau, Jacqueline Cabral, Hélène Benga, Fatou Cissé, Babacar Mané, Inge Baumgarten, and Molly Melching. The TOSTAN Program: Evaluation of a Community Based Education Program in Senegal. August, 2004.Chambers, Claire. Sex, Culture and Justice. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008Gehring, Verna V., ed. The Ethical Dimensions of Global Development. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007Female Genital Mutilation in Gambia.2002Zuhur, Sherifa. Gender, Sexuality and the Criminal Laws in the Middle East and North Africa: A Comparative Study. Istanbul: Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR), 2004.Omeje, Kenneth, ed. Reproductive Health in South-Eastern Nigeria. Enugu: Institute For Developmental Studies, 2000.Gachiri, Ephigenia W. Female Circumcision. Limuru: Kolbe Press, 2000.Denniston, George and Marilyn Fayre Milos, ed. Sexual Mutilations. New York: Plenum Press, 1997.Lockhat, Haseena. Female Genital Mutilation. Enfield: Middlesex University Press, 2004.Worton, Michael and Nana Wilson-Tagoe, ed. National Healths. Portland, 2004.“Figure 1”