39 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2008
Date Written: July, 24 2008
This article examines the role of international human rights norms in the criticism of traditional cultural practices, in particular, the practice of female genital cutting (sometimes referred to as mutilation). It argues that the typical culture-based arguments advanced to defend, and the gender-based arguments advanced to condemn, female genital cutting fail to adequately grapple with the complexities of this practice and, in the case of the latter, are of dubious utility in effecting change within practicing communities. The author suggests that human-rights norms can play a useful role in promoting cultural change by informing a meaningful cross-cultural dialogue and critique of the practice, provided that the commentators involved are prepared to re-examine their criticism and strategies in view of changing cultural norms and conditions.
Keywords: women's rights, female genital mutilation, international human rights, cross-cultural dialogue, cultural sensitivity
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Savell, Kristin L., Wrestling with Contradictions: Human Rights and Traditional Practices Affecting Women (July, 24 2008). McGill Law Journal, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 781-817, 1996; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/85. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1175729