About 6 months ago I talked about the need to change cultural attitudes towards girls from so-called traditional cultures – specifically, to outlaw arranged marriages without the girl’s consent.
The practice of female genital mutilation, erroneously called female circumcision by those who practice it, is arguably even more barbaric and more confronting to Western cultural norms. Even though it is illegal in Australia, many people are reluctant to report it, such is the cultural divide between those who practice it and those who find it abhorrent.
If ever there was an argument to be made against moral relativism, this would have to be one of the most compelling examples. It also highlights how morality for most people, and most societies, is not based on objective criteria, as we like to contend, but on long-accepted social norms.
To prevent this practice requires more than legal prosecution, but a cultural change of attitude. Fundamentally, it needs to be recognised for what it is – torture of a pre-adolescent or adolescent girl. As demonstrated in this video, the people who perpetrate these crimes justify their actions as fulfilling the girl’s destiny. Like most changes to social norms this will ultimately be a generational change within the communities who practice it, not just a change in the law.