Feature

South Africa: A misguided campaign to circumcise

The U.N. is encouraging African men to get circumcised, but its&nbsp; campaign slogan, &ldquo;Real men are circumcised&rdquo; is stoking "the bonfires of prejudice,&rdquo; said Mercedes Sayagues in the<strong> <

Mercedes SayaguesMail & Guardian

Encouraging African men to get circumcised isn’t necessarily a good idea, said Mercedes Sayagues. The U.N. is pushing men to get circumcised as soon as possible, citing statistics that show circumcised men are 60 percent less likely to get HIV than their uncut brothers. As part of the campaign, the U.N. is proclaiming, “Real men are circumcised.” The U.N. bureaucrats surely couldn’t have realized that such a slogan would only “stoke the bonfires of prejudice.” In South Africa, for example, the uncircumcised Zulu and the “initiated” Xhosa routinely trade insults about the state of their respective foreskins. In Kenya, during the post-election violence last year, some of the most hateful rhetoric came from the circumcised Kikuyu tribe, slamming the uncircumcised Luo. But even if it were desirable to circumcise all men, we can’t afford to waste our health-care resources on elective surgery. Doctors who are busy snipping foreskins are “not attending births or trauma victims.” Africa would do better to concentrate on circumcising male infants and leave adult men intact.

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