Culturally Influenced Ethical Practice

Consider a culturally influenced ethical practice dilemma in a country or culture that you are familiar with. Contrast this with the practice and norms of US culture. Alternatively, consider the case of Fatima in Case 9.1 as presented by Healy, L. M. (2008) in International Social Work (p. 248) or another ethical dilemma presented in Chapter 9. Write a 3-4 page double-spaced reaction paper that reflects on the following:
• Briefly define the ethical dilemma
• How does the ethical dilemma reflect the service user’s reality, and the reality of
their family and community?
• How are you influenced personally and professionally by this question or
problem? Reflect on your personal values, history, and cultural biases.
• How might your views conflict with the value base, culture, and history of the
other(s) concerned with the ethical question? To what extent are your ethical
views bound up in individualistic (or communalistic) values?
• The situation involves a conflict that is complex because it is being navigated
between two cultures (which likely have different values or perspectives about the issue). How might the situation play out differently if it were happening entirely within your own culture? How about if it were experienced entirely within another culture?
• To what extent is the ethical tension reflective of wider social and global issues?
• How might power and status influence the service user’s decision? What are the similarities and differences in how power and status are defined in the identified
culture versus your own?

Case 9.1 Example:

This is the case of Fatima, a 22 years old woman born in Canada and still lives there. Her parents were refugees who escaped from Ethiopia in 1976.

Although her parents came from an ethic group that engaged in female genital circumcision, her own mother suffered greatly from this operation, and her parents decided against circumcising Fatima, In any case, this operation is illegal in Canada.
Fatima has decided to marry Ali, a recent refugee from Ethiopia. Ali thinks that to be a good wife a woman should be circumcised. Fatima thinks that she should be true to her Ethiopian traditions. She has suffered in Canada from being a member of a minority, and, as she grew up, she became more interested in her people’s customs and tradition.
Fatima argues that since she is of age, she should be given this operation if she wants it. After all, other women in Canada have operations to enlarge their breasts. or make their faces look younger. She argues that as a Canadian, it is her right to do what she wants with her own body. If the operation is performed in a modern, hygienic hospital in Canada, she lowers the risk of health consequences considerably.

If Fatima approaches a social worker for help in advocating for her right to this operation, how should the social worker respond?

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