Should government regulate your culture? Project Focus Question
Questions What is customary male initiation? Who practices it? Does it make one man enough? Why is customary male initiation a health issue? Has the practice remained loyal to the traditional motivations our forebears? What human rights issues does it raise? How can the practice be regulated? What is customary male initiation? Who practices it? Does it make one man enough? Why is customary male initiation a health issue? Has the practice remained loyal to the traditional motivations our forebears? What human rights issues does it raise? How can the practice be regulated?
What is customary male initiation? A rite of transition to from boyhood to manhood with the aim of integrating the male child into the society according to cultural norms
It involves seclusion (entering the bush and building temporary lodge) burning of temporary lodge and belongings at the close of the seclusion physical symbols inscribed on the body- e.g. painting of the skin with white clay, and permanent bodily alterations like circumcision celebrations of the change in status where ritual sacrifices are performed
Performed by traditional surgeons (ingcibi) traditional attendants (ikhankatha), who only give assistance
Who practices it? Different cultures locally and abroad The Jewish, African and Islamic culture practice it In South Africa the cultural groups that are still practicing the rite are the Tswanas, Sothos, Shangaan-Tsongas and Xhosas Historically the Zulus practiced it, but has been largely abandoned
Does it “make one a man”? As a symbol of transition to manhood initiated men have certain privileges associated with their status They assume certain social responsibilities like officiating in ritual ceremonies Before initiation a male cannot marry or start a family and inherit possessions Their vocabulary and social behaviour distinguish them from boys
Endurance to harsh conditions such as walking long distances and not drinking fluids post circumcision and being severely beaten makes the initiates man enough Death and injury is seen as a way of separating boys who were not fit to play the role of men in a society
Why is customary male initiation a human health issue? The reuse of unsterilised surgical instruments like blunt assegais to all the initiates is implicated in the spread of blood-borne diseases like Tetanus, Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS Severe dehydration is another health risk factor. Initiates are discouraged from drinking fluid post circumcision to prevent frequent urination
death due to Crush syndrome that comes as a result of initiates being severely beaten for failing to adhere to schools protocol, or as a test of endurance unhealthy surroundings, like, cold and dusty holding rooms starvation of the blood supply (Ischaemia) and infection lead to sepsis of the reproductive organ
How does it affect human rights issues? LifeDeath is a natural selection technique- males who are not man enough will die Human dignityLoss or permanent damage of male reproductive organs as a result of Inadequate training of traditional surgeons who sometimes operate under the influence of alcohol EqualityCustomary male initiation is an exclusively male ritual-female health workers are not allowed anywhere near the seclusion camps, or even to draw Acts that legislate the rite Freedom and securityDetention without parents consent Health care, food, water and social security If taken from seclusion to hospital, they'll be stigmatized as not being man enough-If you start it you must finish. Exposure to harsh conditions is a sing of endurance.
How can the practice be regulated? As the guarantor for basic human rights, government has introduced the following Acts: Application of Health Standards in Traditional Circumcision Act (2001)-Eastern Cape Northern Province Circumcision Schools Act (1996) Free State Initiation School Health Act (2004) The National Health Bill Traditional Health Practitioners Bill
The following regulations are stipulated in the Acts Observation of health standards in initiation schools Granting permission by a medical practitioner for the operation of circumcision Males under 18 must be accepted upon parents consent Compulsory medical screening of would be initiates Medical officers including women must be involved
Has the practice remained loyal to the traditional motivations our forebears Which are to teach culture advance family values
Most initiation schools are taken over by opportunistic criminals hence are characterized by: Alcohol abuse, dagga smoking, lack of regulations which are the major causes of deaths Moneymaking practice of charging a price – money and two goats Detaining males without parents concern to be initiated in foreign regions Currently initiation schools occur is summer as opposed to winter in the past The use of plastic building material as opposed to traditional grass and leaves, contribute to a harsh environment that is not conducive to healing These activities are inconsistent with the original motivation and practices.
What analysis can you make from this background information? Gross violation of human rights associated with the rite culminate in deadly infections, callous atrocities abduction of under-aged children without parental consent. loss and mutilation of reproductive organs due to the negligence of traditional surgeons The constitution of our country protects the culture and customs of our communities allows government to regulate the health aspects of cultural initiation
To learn more about the Bill of Rights click on the linkBill of Rights It is a good practice if it upholds the original motivation of traditional forebears which is to teach culture and to uphold family values It cannot be a good practice if it violates the human rights It needs to be regulated Is customary male initiation a good practice?