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Push to Stop Child Circumcision Causing Stir in Parliament

Young men volunteer for free surgical circumcision at the Harare Central Hospital Spilhaus Family Planning Centre, May 29, 2012. (Courtesy the Global Fund)

A motion in parliament calling for an end of boy child circumcision is causing a stir in parliament with some traditionalists strongly opposing the stoppage of medical male circumcision among infants.

Senator Sithembile Mlotshwa, who introduced the motion in July this year, says these traditionalists do not have any good reasons for not stopping the circumcision of children.

She told Studio 7 that some lawmakers are backing her as parliament remains divided over medical male circumcision introduced in the country in 2009 to tackle the spread of HIV.

“I have received a lot of support from both MDC and Zanu PF lawmakers though some Members of Parliament, mostly from Masvingo, are strongly opposing my proposal to end child circumcision.”

Mlotshwa argues that children should be allowed to make their own choices when they grow up instead of being circumcised under the medical male circumcision programme funded by international donors.

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But traditionalist, Xhosa Prince Macleod Tshawe, said this motion is just a waste of time.

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At least 13 east and southern African nations introduced medical male circumcision five years ago following scientific findings indicating that the removal of the male organ's foreskin reduces HIV transmission by 60 percent.

The multi-million dollar programme is succeeding in certain communities but struggling in others, due to strong cultural beliefs, lack of knowledge about circumcision and fears over impotence.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the program is designed to achieve 80% voluntary medical male circumcision coverage among men ages 15-49, requiring approximately 20 million men to be circumcised, and to establish sustainable services for adolescents and /or infants to maintain coverage.

WHO says more than 3 million procedures were performed among males of all ages in priority countries from 2008 to 2012. The number of procedures performed in 2012 was almost double the number performed in 2011.