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Women's Rights in Traditional Cultures

rachelr's picture

In class we were discussing some global progress (or lack thereof) on not only women's rights but gender rights in general. When I was in high school we had a Maasai warrior who was a tribal leader visit. He brought his sword and demonstrated how he would hide in the bushes and jump out to kill the lions and how those hunts were a traditional right of passage for young boys becoming men. His reason for coming to the U.S. was to spread the word about female genital mutation. For young girls that is their right of passage before they get married. Often it is done in large groups and the blade are not cleaned in between, and nothing is sterilized. He spoke to us about the importance of cultural tradition to the Maasai but also his understanding of the health risks to female. Not only is the procedure obviously painful but it can cause severe medical conditions down the road and diseases like HIV and AIDS can be spread extreemly easily. His goal as a tribal leader is to preserve the central cultural gold and history of his tribe while also looking at the real and global health concerns of today. If only more leaders would work so hard to find a balance between culture and safety and health of their people.