March 28, 2004 - Toronto Star: I am a Peace Corps volunteer living in a conservative Muslim village in Central Asia. My host brother, who is 12 years old, often hits his younger sister and female cousins. According to the boy's grandmother, this is acceptable because he is older, he is a boy, and "such bad, rowdy girls deserve to be hit." I disagree, but should I speak up or remain silent? What takes precedence: My responsibility to respect their culture, or my belief that hitting is wrong?

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: March 2004 Peace Corps Headlines: March 28, 2004 - Toronto Star: I am a Peace Corps volunteer living in a conservative Muslim village in Central Asia. My host brother, who is 12 years old, often hits his younger sister and female cousins. According to the boy's grandmother, this is acceptable because he is older, he is a boy, and "such bad, rowdy girls deserve to be hit." I disagree, but should I speak up or remain silent? What takes precedence: My responsibility to respect their culture, or my belief that hitting is wrong?

By Admin1 (admin) (151.196.183.79) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 9:46 am: Edit Post

I am a Peace Corps volunteer living in a conservative Muslim village in Central Asia. My host brother, who is 12 years old, often hits his younger sister and female cousins. According to the boy's grandmother, this is acceptable because he is older, he is a boy, and "such bad, rowdy girls deserve to be hit." I disagree, but should I speak up or remain silent? What takes precedence: My responsibility to respect their culture, or my belief that hitting is wrong?

I am a Peace Corps volunteer living in a conservative Muslim village in Central Asia. My host brother, who is 12 years old, often hits his younger sister and female cousins. According to the boy's grandmother, this is acceptable because he is older, he is a boy, and such bad, rowdy girls deserve to be hit. I disagree, but should I speak up or remain silent? What takes precedence: My responsibility to respect their culture, or my belief that hitting is wrong?

I am a Peace Corps volunteer living in a conservative Muslim village in Central Asia. My host brother, who is 12 years old, often hits his younger sister and female cousins. According to the boy's grandmother, this is acceptable because he is older, he is a boy, and "such bad, rowdy girls deserve to be hit." I disagree, but should I speak up or remain silent? What takes precedence: My responsibility to respect their culture, or my belief that hitting is wrong?

Local custom violates basic moral principle

RANDY COHEN
ON ETHICS

Q I am a Peace Corps volunteer living in a conservative Muslim village in Central Asia. My host brother, who is 12 years old, often hits his younger sister and female cousins. According to the boy's grandmother, this is acceptable because he is older, he is a boy, and "such bad, rowdy girls deserve to be hit." I disagree, but should I speak up or remain silent? What takes precedence: My responsibility to respect their culture, or my belief that hitting is wrong?

Anonymous

A You needn't establish precedence between your two ideals; instead you should find a way to oppose an abhorrent practice while avoiding cultural imperialism. It's undeniable that our values are influenced by the time and place in which we happen to live. Most New Yorkers act differently than most Vikings did or if we don't, we at least realize that we should go easy on the looting and pillaging.

However, while behaviour varies from culture to culture, we can establish basic moral principles to which nearly everyone will subscribe. That is what the United Nations did when it created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document endorsed by countries with extraordinarily diverse cultures.

Once such doctrines are established, it is possible to assert that a local custom is not in accord with ethics we all share. That is the case for the petty violence and the sexism you describe: Both violate fundamental precepts that apply in all times and all places. And I believe that one could argue the point persuasively. One could, but I'm not sure that you (or anyone in your position) could, at least not easily. You need not defer to a local custom that encourages hitting girls indeed, you have an obligation to resist it but your difficult task is devising effective forms of resistance.

It takes tact, sensitivity and astuteness to oppose an entrenched local custom. One place to begin is by working with or enlisting the aid and advice of local groups making a similar effort. It is they who are likely to have both the insight and the moral standing to lead reforms in their own homeland.




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Story Source: Toronto Star

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