Kirsten Bowman


The practice of female genital cutting (FGC) has been criticized and debated within the international legal community for years. However, the argument between cultural relativism and universalism drowns out the important issues regarding the practice and its effects on women and girls. Within this debate the UN plays an integral role and this comment seeks to analyze that role. The author explains the practice of FGC, its effects, and its current legal standing globally. She then seeks to analyze western attempts to end the practice of FGC and the role that both universalists and cultural relativists play in that effort. A critical analysis of UN initiatives to end the practice as well as other, non-legal approaches offers an overview of the effectiveness of the opposing approaches to eradication. Finally, the author calls for redefining the role that the international legal community and western NGO's will play in pursuit of eradication.



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