Female Circumcision: A Critical Appraisal
Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Nov., 1988), pp. 437-486.
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This article seeks to determine at what point the “tradition” female circumcision becomes a human rights violation justifying pressure from foreign cultures to end this “tradition.” Two major, opposing views emerge in the article. The first view advocates an absolute right to “cultural self-determination”: not even a cultural tradition routinely resulting in death could be attacked as a violation of human rights under this view. The second view argues that a “tradition” that routinely harms or kills individuals is a human rights violation and should be stopped. This view points to the significant number of women and children who do not have an opportunity to refuse to be subjected to this “tradition.” This article finds the second view to be most persuasive and argues that human rights are universal.