We need to care more about our fellow humans

29 December 2019 - 00:00 By SUNDAY TIMES

For a ritual that is meant to signal a rebirth that moves a boy into manhood, initiation schools have a galling record of death and disfigurement. The annual killing season is upon us again. Scores of young men are losing their lives, or their penises. Hundreds of others are being admitted to hospital to be treated for septicaemia, dehydration or assault, among others. Mothers and fathers looking forward to welcoming their sons back as men instead have the bitter, heart-breaking burden of burying their children. Most of these deaths are preventable, and the illegal or badly run initiation schools are a national crisis.

Dr Mbuyiselo Madiba, Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital head of urology, has called for traditional circumcision in the Eastern Cape — where most of the deaths happen — to be banned for a year and replaced with medical circumcision. The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities has suspended schools in four Eastern Cape areas where 22 young men lost their lives. Minister of police Bheki Cele has called for more powers for the police to deal with rogue practitioners. These calls to protect our youth are welcome, but need to be accompanied by equal and urgent action...

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