How often should traditions be reassessed in terms of growing awareness of human and animal rights?

‘Buts it’s a tradition’ is the cry of those who do not want things changed ‘But it’s barbaric’ is often the response

So – here are some ‘traditions’ perhaps it was right to lose:

In ancient Japan maidens were buried alive at the base or near some constructions as a prayer to ensure the buildings against disasters or enemy attacks.

Twins have ‘traditionally’ had a hard time of it. Among the Koryaks, a Mongoloid people of north-eastern Siberia, infanticide was still common in the 19th century. One of the twins was always sacrificed. Since feudal Japan the common slang for infanticide was “mabiki” which means to pull plants from an overcrowded garden. A typical method in Japan was smothering through wet paper on the baby’s mouth and nose. Mabiki persisted in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many tribes in Africa put twins to death immediately after birth.

Also, another ‘tradition’ meant that if a mother died in childbirth among the Ibo people of Nigeria, the newborn was buried alive. It suffered a similar fate if the father died.

In China, it was ‘tradition’ to bind girls feet. This binding resulted in permanent disability for the women. In the 1990s and early 2000s, some elderly Chinese women still suffered from disabilities related to bound feet.

These traditions are still practiced:

Female Genital Mutilation. This is the removal of various parts of the female genitals, guaranteeing no sexual enjoyment. It also carries with it the risk infections, both ordinary and HIV, and death at the time of the ‘traditional’ procedure as well as long term health issues for the women. In the worst cases, girls have everything external removed, sometimes with a sharpened piece of glass and are then sewed up with a gap left large enough just for urine and blood to pass through. The sewn up entrance is cut open by the girl’s husband on her wedding day. But its tradition, so let’s leave it be.

In Pakistan it is ‘traditional’ for the young daughters to be sold in marriage to richer, much older men. The girls have no say in this traditional transaction. Often, neither do her family.

In India girls are sold according to the tradition of devadasis – to be slaves of the goddess. The bastardisation of this ‘tradition’ means that they are prostitutes. They are often sold before they are even teenagers. When they reach puberty, they are forced to lose their virginity to an older man, one with the cash to buy it. The rest of their lives are one of sexual slavery.

There are hundreds more, many seemingly appalling.

My point is that there are ‘traditions’ which exist which the victims of have no recall against; no power to prevent. The cry ‘but its tradition’ is insufficient in my eyes, for these acts to continue without some examination. We may be different tribes, but we are all people. I cannot ignore an activity because it is ‘tradition’ if I would refuse to be part of it. No one is cutting my bits off or selling me to some old fart.

The luxury of my freedom to choose means I have some responsibility to those who do not. And that’s my tradition.

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