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Culturally relative ethical issues Essay

As it would be observed, human beings are defined by different ethical behaviors and standards. Culturally relativism is very common in the contemporary world, since each and every community in the world has its own activities and beliefs, as it is defined by their own culture (Mackinnon, 2011).

In most cases, the ethical standards of one community may tend to differ greatly with those of another, due to their varied cultural settings.

A perfect example of a culturally relative ethical issue is the belief by some communities that, people of different genders should not shake hands. Another example is the predominant practice of female genital mutilation, which is prevalent in some communities.

Shaking of hands is a common habit allover the world, and there are many reasons why people would shake hands with each other in the first place. While it is usual for people to shake hands to exchange greetings, some communities and tribes would tend to view this as a wrongful practice.

This must explain the reason why some Muslim men don’t shake hands with their female counterparts. This practice is also common in the Jewish culture, where shaking of hands between people of different sex is highly forbidden, unless they were married.

The people in these communities generally believe that, shaking a woman’s hand is a disrespectful way of touching them, and this may infer sexual desires (Margolin et al., 2005).

Many people may not find this perception of hand shake across genders acceptable, but personally I believe it creates some manners and respect between people of different genders.

In this regard, other people in the world should try to adopt and follow the Jewish culture at all costs. This way, we shall be able to make use of other polite ways while expressing our greetings or regards to people of the opposite sex.

The practice of female genital mutilation has been a highly debated issue allover the world. The custom has proved to be acceptable to some communities, while it has remained a big challenge for other communities to embrace.

The habit of female circumcision is observed to be prevalent in countries such as; South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, among other regions of the world.

The proponents of this custom have always offered strong cultural reasons as to why they practice it, and one of the common reasons here is that, circumcision is a celebrated right of passage for the female. However, many people across the world see this as an abhorrent practice against the women, and have always detested it.

Female circumcision is associated with many ethical and social issues, and this explains why some Western countries have outlawed it. In most cases, the ritual is carried out between the ages of four and twelve.

This is a very tender age for such a risky operation to be carried on a child, especially by persons who have no medical expertise.

Apart from the pain and the physical complications which the victims are likely to suffer, there are also many health consequences associated with the ritual. For instance, the procedure is normally conducted without sterile instruments and this can result to serious health effects on the victims (Whitehorn, Ayonrinde and Maingay, 2002).

There is no doubt that, female circumcision is one of the most harmful cultural rituals conducted on women today, and in that case, it needs to be eradicated.


Mackinnon, B. (2011). Ethics theory and contemporary issues, 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

Margolin, G., Chien, D., Duman, S., Fauchier, A., Gordis, E., Oliver, P.,Ramos, M., & Vickerman, K. (2005). Ethical issues in couple and family research. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(1), 157.

Whitehorn, J., Ayonrinde, O., & Maingay, S. (2002). Female genital mutilation: cultural and psychological implications. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 17(2), 161-170.

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