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Your Conscience You Must Keep, or it Must be Kept for You



Parents in several cultures 'discipline' their daughters to inculcate the supposedly feminine virtues. The measures taken by parents range from the benign to the brutal across societies. The paper formalizes the idea that this process can be understood as an equilibrium outcome of a signaling game between parents of girls and prospective suitors. We identify the conditions that make a society-wide norm feasible, and those that determine the extent of restrictions faced by girls in equilibrium. The predictions of the model can help understand the persistence of extreme practices like foot-binding and genital mutilation of young girls.

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