Surgery or mutilation?: How autonomy can strengthen the anti-FGM movement

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Publication Type honors thesis
School or College College of Humanities
Department Philosophy
Faculty Mentor Leslie Francis
Creator Sanchez, Eliana C.
Title Surgery or mutilation?: How autonomy can strengthen the anti-FGM movement
Year graduated 2014
Date 2014-05
Description The World Health Organization (WHO) defines female genital mutilation as any alteration to the female external genitalia or genital organs for nonmedical reasons. This definition is both over- and under-inclusive. Western cosmetic surgeries, such as vaginal rejuvenation, are technically included in the definition, but are ignored by the anti-FGM movement and are discounted in prevalence statistics. Further, the anti-FGM movement, using the above definition, condemns all third-world genital alteration practices, often overstating the prevalence of the most extreme practices, attributing all third-world practices to patriarchy and ignoring other significant factors. This paper will argue that the anti-FGM movement should shift focus to banning all questionable genital alteration practices, those in which benefits are norm dependent, rather than all third-world genital alteration practices. I will make my case by first showing that the anti-FGM movement fails to exhaust all relevant cases of genital alterations and does not address the actual prevalence of female genital mutilation, as defined by WHO. Second, I will explain how the movement misrepresents third-world practices by overestimating the prevalence of the most severe forms of genital alterations and pointing to causes that are unrepresentative of many communities. I will also address some of the Western practices the anti-FGM movement largely ignores. Finally, I will suggest what a new definition ought to look like and discuss an approach for the anti-FGM movement that focuses on increasing autonomy and reducing coercion and social norms.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Female genital mutilation
Language eng
Rights Management (c) Eliana C. Sanchez
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 541,247 bytes
Permissions Reference URL
ARK ark:/87278/s6b02f50
Setname ir_htoa
Date Created 2016-11-10
Date Modified 2019-07-10
ID 205925
Reference URL
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