Cutting Tradition: The Political Regulation of Circumcision Rites in South Africa's Liberal Democratic Order

Journal of Southern African Studies (Impact Factor: 0.46). 03/2008; 34(1):78-91. DOI: 10.1080/03057070701832890


The South African Xhosa ethnic group, the majority of whom live in the country's Eastern Cape province, are one of several ethnic groups in southern Africa that pra

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Available from: Louise Vincent
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    • "In this regard, the most important aspect to note is that TMC is a cultural or traditional rite which is being practiced from an African perspective mostly by population groups of African descends throughout South Africa. There is widespread anecdotal evidence that this practice is common in both African and Muslim communities as part of sacred initiation which is intended to prepare initiates for transition into manhood (Momoti, 2002;Vincent, 2008;Howard et al, 2010; Deacon "

    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015
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    • "Alternatively, in communities in Zimbabwe (Harmon, 2011), South Africa (Vincent, 2008), and Kenya (WHO, 2009), where traditional MC is performed, initiates schedule VMMC surgeries immediately prior to embarking on their rites, or male health practitioners attend the initiation ceremonies to conduct the circumcision. While effective , these approaches limit and jeopardize the practices of traditional healers/circumcisers , threaten to devalue their role in their communities (Vincent, 2008) and place them in an antagonistic rather than a cooperative role in relation to VMMC programs. We propose a collaborative strategy that offers more freedom and empowerment to the traditional sector. "
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    ABSTRACT: Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) has been rapidly accepted by global HIV policy and donor institutions as a highly valuable HIV prevention strategy given its cost-effectiveness, limited interactions with a health facility and projected long-lasting benefits. Many southern African countries have incorporated VMMC into their national HIV prevention strategies. However, intensive VMMC promotion programs have met with limited success to date and many HIV researchers have voiced concerns. This commentary discusses reasons behind the less-than-desired public demand and suggests how inclusion of the traditional sector – traditional leaders, healers, and circumcisers – with their local knowledge, cultural expertise and social capital, particularly in the realm of social meanings ascribed to male circumcision (MC), may improve the uptake of this HIV prevention strategy. We offer Lesotho and Swaziland as case studies of the integration of universal VMMC policies; these are countries with a shared HIV burden, yet contrasting contemporary sociocultural practices of MC. The similar hesitant responses expressed by these two countries towards VMMC remind us that the incorporation of any new or revised and revitalized public health strategy must be considered within unique historical, political, economic, and sociocultural contexts.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Critical Public Health
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