The article is from (Schaefer, R. T.) Sociology: A Brief Introduction, pg 229. Can you help?
By its very title, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes that such rights should be universal. Even so, cultural relativism encourages understanding and respect for the distinctive norms, values, and customs of each culture. In some situations, conflicts arise between human rights standards and local social practices that rest on alternative views of human dignity. For example, is India's caste system an inherent violation of human rights? What about the many cultures of the world that view the subordinate status of women as an essential element in their traditions? Should human rights be interpreted differently in different parts of the world? In 1993, the United states rejected such a view by insisting that the Universal Declaration of human rights set a single standard for acceptable behavior around the world. However, in the late1990's certain Asian and African nations were reviving arguments about cultural relativism in an attempt to block sanctions by the United Nations Human Rights Commission. For example, female genital multilation, a practice that is common in more than 30 countries around the world, has been condemned in Western nations as a human rights abuse. This controversial practice often involves removal of the clitoris, in the belief that its excision will inhibit a young woman's sex drive, making her chaste and thus more desirable to her future husband. Though some countries have passed laws against the practice, they have gone largely unenforced. Immigrants from countries where genital multilation is common often insist that their daughters undergo the procedure, to protect them from Western cultural norms that allow premarital sex. In this context, defining human rights becomes a challenge (Religious Tolerance 2008). It is not often that a nation makes such a bold statement on human rights. Policymakers, including those in the United States, more frequently look at human rights issues from an economic perspective. Functionalists would point out how much more quickly we become embroiled in "human rights" concerns when oil is at stake, as in the Middle East, or when military alliances come into play, as in Europe. Governmnets ratify human rights but resist independent efforts to enforce them within their own borders (Hafner-Burton and Tsutsui 2005). A recent sociological study compared those nations that do ratify human rights treaties with those that do not. Ironically, the most repressive regimes turned out to be the ones most likely to ratify the agreements. Generally, those countries are the least constrained by watchdog groups that might actually hold them to the agreements. At the same time, participation in the agreements may bring some positive notice, albeit brief, in the court of world opinion. Although the research suggests that human rights treaties have been fully implemented, it also shows a growing global consensus on human rights.