Ethical aspects of traditional male circumcision among certain ethnic groups in South Africa : the grounds for change and societal intervention

Sibiya, Sydney Langelihle (2014-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Traditional male circumcision (TMC) is non-therapeutic ritual removal of the penile foreskin of a male person undertaken as part of a rite of passage from childhood into adulthood and manhood. The practice of TMC has received increased attention in recent years as a result primarily of complications that have led to hospitalization, penile amputations, and death of initiates. This study is a literature review and philosophical-ethical reflection with the following objectives: • To explain the current problems that beset TMC in South Africa • To explore the socio-cultural context in which TMC takes place in South Africa • To engage in ethical deliberation on the harms and benefits of TMC and determine whether, in its current form, the practice constitutes a net harm or benefit • To establish the ethical basis on which society ought to intervene in TMC, and to explore the modes of intervention proposed. Kepe (2010:729-730) identifies three concurrent crises that beset TMC in South Africa- the crisis of disease, injuries, and death suffered by some initiates, the crisis of the tension between the government and traditional leaders with regards to government intervention in TMC, and the crisis of the uncontrolled and negative way in which societal changes have impacted on the practice of traditional male circumcision. Male circumcision is the most widely accepted cultural practice among the Xhosa-speaking people of South Africa, and it is considered to be the only manner in which a boy can attain manhood and adulthood (Vincent, 2008). In view of the ongoing, unambiguous and preventable harm associated with TMC as it is currently practised, I think that it ought not to be allowed to continue in its current format. But I also think that the defect in TMC is remediable. I therefore feel sufficiently warranted to advocate for intervention to make the practice safer for all concerned. Intervention in TMC may be justified on public health, socio-cultural, autonomy, and beneficence grounds.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Tradisionele manlike besnyding (TMB) is die nie-terapeutiese, rituele verwydering van die peniele voorhuid van ’n manspersoon. Dit word gedoen as deel van ’n seremonie van oorgang vanaf kinderjare na volwassenheid en manlikheid. Die praktyk van TMB het die afgelope jare toenemende aandag geniet, hoofsaaklik as gevolg van komplikasies van die prosedure wat gelei het tot hospitalisasie, peniele amputasies en dood van die persone wat geïnisieer is. Hierdie studie is ’n literatuuroorsig en filosofies-etiese refleksie met die volgende doelwitte: • Om die huidige probleme met TMB in Suid-Afrika te verduidelik • Om die sosio-kulturele konteks waarin TMB in Suid-Afrika plaasvind, te ondersoek • Om vanuit etiese oorweging te verduidelik wat die nadele en voordele van TMB is en te bepaal of die praktyk, in die huidige vorm, suiwer nadelig of voordelig is • Om die etiese basis waarop die gemeenskap in TMB behoort in te tree, asook die voorgestelde metode van intervensie, te ondersoek. Kepe (2010:729-730) identifiseer drie samevallende krisisse wat TMB in Suid- Afrika insluit – die probleem van siekte, beserings en dood ondervind deur sommige inisiandi, spanning tussen die regering en tradisionele leiers met betrekking tot regerings-intervensie in TMB, en die ongekontroleerde en negatiewe wyse waarin samelewingsveranderinge ’n impak het op die praktyk van tradisionele manlike besnyding. Manlike besnyding is die mees algemene aanvaarde kulturele praktyk in die Xhosa-sprekende mense van Suid-Afrika. Dit word beskou as die enigste manier waarop ‘n seun manlikheid en volwassenheid kan bereik (Vincent, 2008). In die lig van die voortdurende, ondubbelsinnige en voorkomende nadele wat geassosieer word met TMB soos dit tans beoefen word, dink ek dit behoort nie toegelaat te word in die huidige formaat nie. Maar ek dink ook dat die gebrek in TMB herstelbaar is. Daarom voel ek genoegsaam verseker om intervensie te verdedig om die praktyk veiliger te maak vir almal betrokke. Intervensie in TMB mag geregverdig word op grond van publieke , sosiaalkulturele en outonomiese voordele.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86647
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