CULTURAL TRADITION

Male circumcision must be handled by clinicians

In Summary

• Every year young boys bleed to death after botched circumcision by traditional healers

• A new bill will legislate for only trained medical workers to perform  male circumcisions

A boy undergoing circumcision as part of an initiation process into manhood.
TRANSITION: A boy undergoing circumcision as part of an initiation process into manhood.
Image: BRIAN OJAMA

A bill is coming before the National Assembly to ban non-medical male circumcision.

Kandara MP Alice Wahome's Health (Amendment) Bill will legislate for male circumcision to be performed only in medically hygienic conditions by trained and registered persons.

Every year young boys bleed to death as a result of botched circumcisions. Other suffer permanent disfigurement.

 
 

Male circumcision has many health benefits. For instance, it greatly reduces the risk of transmitting HIV. Those ethnic groups who favour circumcision should definitely be allowed to continue practising it.

But respect for tradition does not mean that we have to continue living in the past. Having a trained clinician perform circumcision is still compatible with cultural leaders initiating young men into their adult values and responsibilities.

There is an ongoing cultural battle where church leaders want to take over responsibility for initiation from local elders. That choice should be left to the parents of the boy.

Although it will be controversial, MPs should vote for Wahome's Bill that will outlaw circumcision by traditional healers. It will protect young men's health and it will not undermine the cultural values of the ethnic groups practising circumcision.

Quote of the day: "The presidency is not an office job."

Jakaya Kikwete
The fourth President of Tanzania was born on October 7, 1950