Calling an end to initiation deaths and mutilations

Posted in Press Statements

The worst affected area is Pondoland, where the ritual re-emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. A key cause of the problems is inexperience on the part of the traditional attendants. The initiation schools are poorly supervised resulting from insufficient involvement of local traditional leadership, the community and the secrecy that surrounds the ritual. We hereby call on all stakeholders and in particular the House of Traditional Leaders and Department of Health, to intervene in the Eastern Cape and the other affected provinces. A strong and committed task team is needed to coordinate all efforts in preparation for the next season that includes representation from the National Prosecuting Authority, SAPS and the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Active participation of local traditional leaders is urgently needed, and awareness should be raised in schools and communities via education campaigns. Legislation should be enforced perpetrators should be held accountable and tried. We as doctors in the affected areas have a thorough understanding of the problems underlying the ritual, and are willing to be part of the solution. We cannot turn a blind eye while our young men are dying at the prime of their age. Traditional circumcision and initiation into manhood should be a beautiful and valuable experience for all initiates.

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