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Uganda will Outlaw FGM

July 8, 2009

President Yuweri Museveni plans to make female circumsision illegal, saying in a statement on Friday,

The way God made it, there is no part of a human body that is useless.

Yoweri_Museveni_-4

Female circumsision is exceedingly common in certain tribal groups living in the east of the country. Museveni went on, saying,

“Now you people interfere with God’s work. Some say it is culture. Yes, I support culture but you must support culture that is useful and based on scientific information.”

I appreciate his acknowledgement that the cultural values of those he speaks to are different than his, and disagrees from this standpoint. When we criticize an aspect of another culture, power relations come into play. I feel he is aware of this and strengthens his stance by criticizing in reference to scientific information, such as the increased risk of HIV transmission in circumcised females. This approach is stronger than one based on moral outrage or ethnocentrism, as it acknowledges the culture of the Other while disagreeing.

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