Understanding the Sociocultural and Traditional Context of Female Circumcision and the Impact of the Human Rights Discourse

  • Corinne Packer
Part of the Comparative Feminist Studies book series (CFS)


In recent years, international human rights and health advocates have drawn much attention to female circumcision as a harmful traditional practice. Various approaches have been adopted at the grassroots, national, and international levels to bring an end to this practice. Among these has been a discourse of human rights relating in particular to health and gender. For the purposes of this chapter, it is not necessary to define or describe the various forms of female circumcision (hereafter referred to in its abbreviated form as “FC”) or to detail the violations of international human rights standards which the practice constitutes as these have been well-established and documented.1 The aim of this chapter is to examine the reasons why the human rights discourse has come into use, and the lessons learned regarding its context, consequences, and effectiveness. However, it is submitted that, in order to truly understand how the discourse can or cannot bring about change in this practice, it is first necessary to consider the notion of tradition as it applies to the practice and to establish the particular sociocultural context within which it is performed. As such, the adoption, maintenance, and modification of traditions and sociocultural norms in general are considered from a psychosocial perspective.


Traditional Practice Female Genital Mutilation African Woman Female Circumcision Special Rapporteur 
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Copyright information

© Obioma Nnaemeka and Joy Ngozi Ezeilo 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corinne Packer

There are no affiliations available

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