In my Introduction to Clinical Ethics class and Anthropology courses, we discussed and contrasted the ethnocentric and cultural relativism perspectives in Western society and in the medical clinic society. Although these courses recognize the cultural significance of FGM, there is a major concern for Western physicians who are asked to perform these procedures. Some physicians are for performing the surgery, because this allows women to be in a sanitary clinic with anesthesia and a better chance for less complications to occur. Without this practice in a clinic or other medical setting, many are afraid that women in the US will refer to “back alley” methods.
FGM is continued to be practiced in certain regions of the world, because as Lila Abu-Lughod said in “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others,” women who are mothers continue to teach their daughters the acceptance of cultural traditions, like FGM, in silence.
Here are some interesting articles to read if you get the chance. The first link will take you to the WHO teaching methods for interventions in societies that promote FGM. The second link discusses the ethics behind FGM and the arguments for and against continuing the practice in western societies, especially in a hospital setting where the procedure can be sanitary and no complications can arise. These two articles can help put the cultural context into perspective and see the light of both ethnocentric and cultural relativism arguments.