Case for Contamination” Many people who advocate for the preservation of
cultures are establishing a disservice to the progress of women’s rights.
Article Two of the UNESCO Convention (2005), for example, talks about the
“principle of equal dignity of and respect for all cultures.” While this may
seem like a humane position on the importance of cultural diversity it is, in
fact, an endangering viewpoint to the push for women’s rights. This is discussed
widely in Kwame Anthony Appiah’s (2006) “The Case for Contamination”. In it,
the topic of women’s rights as a global responsibility (which is also viewed as
‘cultural imperialism’ imposed by highly developed countries) is questioned as
to whether this perception is endangering the cultural norms and traditions of
countries around the world. Appiah talks extensively on the subject of
globalization on how many traditions and customs are being threatened by the
emergence of dominating cultures from more developed countries. She uses the
example of how baseball caps, radio programs that talk about western figures
and brands like Coca-Cola are entering foreign lands and are having an impact
on citizens. A main reason for this is that these products make economic sense
for the impoverished. “They have no real choice,” the cultural
preservationists say. “We’ve dumped cheap Western clothes into their
markets, and they can no longer afford the silk they used to wear
traditionally” (Appiah, 2006). But the bigger issue remains on how these
“Western values” are affecting key areas that do not agree in the way in which
men and women behave, such as in the US. Islamic culture in Afghanistan, for
example, restricts women from many things including going out in public

·  2. without
their husbands or without wearing their burqas to cover their faces (Chiovenda,
2012). These “culturally diverse” norms which cultural preservationists feel
the need to defend are damaging to the rights of Afghan women. The
interventions by the US and NATO have assisted in gradually transitioning the
perception of equality among the region in order to empower women within their
country. Some would see this sort of intervention as invasive to state
sovereignty or aggressive in its demands for a country like Afghanistan to
relinquish its identity. Appiah would argue that this is not the case. She
intelligently replies that countries do not have to surrender their cultural
diversity in order to do what is proper in the sense of human rights for women.
It may be considered for some to be ‘cultural imperialism’ simply based on the
notion that these campaigns for women’s rights are being championed by Western
powers like the US and Europe. However, we can support cultural changes in the
benefit of progressive human rights without the need to sacrifice cultural
identity and diversity. With the ever expanding spread of ideas and information
with tools like the Internet, many cultural practices that are harmful or
prohibit freedoms and rights will eventually become obsolete. It is one thing
to preserve culture as in history, arts, and identity; it is another to
preserve cultures as in outdated, stagnant, and wrongful traditions, especially
those that limit women’s rights

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