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When culture harms: A case study on Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia and reverberations felt in a wider context from a political and ethical perspective
Halmstad University, School of Social and Health Sciences (HOS).
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Purpose and Questions: The purpose with this thesis is to explore why female genital mutilation (FGM) persist in Ethiopia, and secondly to explore reverberations felt in a wider context from a political and ethical perspective. The aim of this paper is not to argue that traditional female genital mutilation ought to be legalized, but to highlight the double standards of moral involved. Following questions were used as guidance to fulfil the purpose: how is the situation for women and what is the status of FGM in Ethiopia?; are there legal framework mechanisms in place?; what are the attitudes on the biggest challenges in the struggle against FGM and what are the way’s forward?; and what readings can be made with regards to the ‘phenomenon’ of genital alterations in a wider context from a political and ethical perspective?

Method: This thesis is a case study of the phenomenon genital mutilation. It has elements of a field study with comparative elements, in terms of the ‘phenomenon’ of genital alterations. The material consists of data from fieldwork conducted in Ethiopia as well as data from literature review.

Results:  The paper presents an alternative point of view on previously not so well understood relations on the subject matter. Ethiopia is a poor and highly traditional country, where women lack behind in most areas. The legal provisions in the Criminal Code against FGM are not strong enough, or in place. The Criminal Code only restricts the practice and doesn’t explicitly outlaw it. The country is also democratically crippled, and NGOs has been constrained (indirectly) in their work on FGM.  Ethnicity and culture, rather than religion, seem to be the most decisive factors for the practice in Ethiopia. However, it seems as though the veil of silence has been partially lifted. There seem to be awareness in some segments of the population, however much more work is needed towards the total elimination of the practice. Awareness on the harm as well as implementation and adherence to the law, and thus change takes time. Western cultural norms however seem to prevail over other cultural norms, and various forms of genital alterations undertaken due to individual non-medical reasons might create skewed attitudes and have a negative impact on the struggle against FGM, from a wider perspective. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 78 p.
Keyword [en]
law, policy, genital mutilation, circumcision and culture
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-18024OAI: diva2:534433
Subject / course
Political Science
, Halmstad Högskola, Halmstad (Swedish)
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2012-06-19 Created: 2012-06-17 Last updated: 2012-06-19Bibliographically approved

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