Circumcision a violation of child's rights

News  Daily News (Durban, South Africa), Page 2. Wednesday, 12 October 2005.

Janine Stephen

A group of men caused a stir in parliament on Tuesday by calling for an end to all circumcision of baby boys - or anyone under 18 years old.

External link The National Organisation of Circumcision Information Resource Centres South Africa (NOCIRC-SA) is fighting for boys' rights to retain their foreskins. They say that circumcision without consent is a violation of a child's rights.

They are supported by a number of other local and international organisations, including the External link International Coalition of Genital Integrity, External link Doctors Opposing Circumcision and the External link National Organisation of Restoring Men (NORM).

'Male circumcision should not be isolated from female circumcision' The select committee on social development was holding public hearings into the Children's Bill, which outlaws female genital mutilation and virginity testing.

Under the proposed Bill, which has already been approved by the national Assembly, anyone who practises female genital mutilation or virginity testing is guilty of an offence and can be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

Male circumcision should not be isolated from female circumcision, Dean Ferris of NOCIRC said.

This is unlikely to go down well with Jewish, Islamic and Xhosa groups, all of which see circumcision as an essential part of their cultures.

According to a External link Children's Institute discussion paper on the Children's Bill, if a child is old enough to give consent, then the boy has the right to say no. Forcing a child to be circumcised is a criminal offence. The bill is silent on the age for consent.

However, circumcising baby boys who are too young to give consent, is not outlawed.

A written statement submitted to the select committee by NORM states that: As children, we were unable to voice our objections to halt these ritual genital mutilations that were carried out on us in hospitals and beyond.

We are now able as adults to loudly and unreservedly condemn such sexual abuse.

Ferris said that the External link South African Medical Association has said that there is no need for circumcision from a medical point of view.

It's a human issue, said paediatrician Dr Daniel Sidler. It's about the integrity of the genitals. We're fiddling with normal and healthy genitals.


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