Negotiation as a Potential Framework for Understanding the Conflictive Perspectives Associated with Female Genital Mutilation
Female genital mutilation is a controversial practice that has gained significant attention on a global level over the past decade. The practice is more predominant on the African continent than elsewhere, with the major participants being Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, and Sudan; which has the highest occurrences among these nations (Melhado, 2006). While attention devoted to women and women’s issues has increased dramatically in the last five decades on a global basis (Berkovitch & Bradley, 1999), the differing perspectives underlying the evaluation and call for action to deal with such a socially and culturally sensitive issue as female genital mutilation, has been part of the conflictive process in any attempt to fully develop and convene a global effort for addressing and dealing with female genital mutilation as it affects women worldwide. This paper examines three distinct perspectives with conflictive approaches and interpretations of the problem of female genital mutilation, which consequentially becomes problematic in developing a global framework for resolution of the issue. These three perspectives are the humanitarian, education, and cultural relativism perspectives. The author proposes that negotiation can be used as a tool for developing consensus among individuals and groups or stakeholders torn among these differing perspectives in order to establish a common ground on which to develop global or collective action to sufficiently address the issue. People negotiate to advance their interests and those of the institutions they represent (Watkins, 1999). Negotiation can effectively be used to unify stakeholders’ differing perspectives, while establishing a common ground or compromise which settles existing conflicts that prevent individuals and groups from arriving at collective action required to resolve or address an existing issue; in this case, female genital mutilation. This paper proposes several methods for dealing with these differing perspectives through the art of negotiation.
Keywords: Gender Studies, Womens Rights, Cultural Traditions
Graduate Student, Cross Discliplinary Studies, Nova Southeastern University