South African Human Rights Commission has drawn concerns about the cultural process of circumcision. Already this winter, there have been more than 10 deaths from the cultural rite of passage, and the initiation season still has a long way to go.
A spokesman stated that although the Human Rights Commission respect culture, they can not accept or tolerate a culture that leads to the death of children and youth, because their most fundamental aim is promoting the right to life.
As a result, the commission has called for deaths to be prevented at circumcision schools by the CRL – Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious, and Linguistic Communities. Although they were addressing the matter, concerns were raised following reports that 13 initiates had died in the Eastern Cape since the start of the winter initiation season, which can be triggered by factors including infection and the tight binding of penis wounds, which cuts off blood supply, as well as sleep deprivation, exposure to winter cold and other harsh conditions.
This number is expected to increase as more schools receive initiatives. The CRL stated that in the past seven years, 486 people have died due to the process of a traditional circumcision, and that more fatalities were unacceptable.
In 2012, a public hearing was held in order to recommend how to make circumcision safer. SAHRC are now making further enquiries into the matter, to find ways of prevention. The ministry is also urging traditional leaders to work with state medical experts to prevent deaths, some of which are due to dehydration and septic shock. Some men have even lose their penis due to gangrene, as surgeons use the same spear on more than a dozen initiates. It also says owners of illegal initiation schools should be arrested and prosecuted.
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