It has caused not a little ribald commentary, particularly on social media, but the tabling of a draft Bill in the National Assembly that aims to make male circumcision for boys between birth and 18 years of age mandatory (under the supervision of a trained medical personnel), is not as unreasonable as it appears at first glance.
The Free Mandatory Medical Circumcision Bill, 2023, has the worthy objective of significantly reducing the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Cutting the risk of infection
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), male circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring HIV via heterosexual intercourse with female partners by up to 60-60 percent.
A report published by the CDC in 2014 showed that circumcised men were also 42 percent less likely to contract syphilis, 48 percent in the case of genital ulcers, genital herpes by 28-45 percent, and 24-47 percent lower in respect of high-risk strains of human papillomavirus which is associated with cancer.
“The introduction of mandatory medically supervised male circumcision between birth and the age of 18”, the draft Bill reads, “shall contribute significantly to healthier, safer and more prosperous society for all”.
The proposals in the Draft Bill are centred around two key areas for action: banning the use of the traditional circumciser’s knife to be replaced a medically approved of cut which all boys in the age range will have to undergo.
The traditional becomes a medical practice
The Bill thus seeks to change a cultural practice into a medical practice. However, once the circumcision has been done in a medical approved fashion, traditional and cultural ceremonies can still take place.
Quoted in The Daily Nation, Mukurwini MP John Kaguchia who introduced the Bill, said: “This is good for boys as it shifts the circumcision from a cultural practice to medical requirement for those who don’t practice it as a cultural practice.”
Some young boys have been maimed during the circumcision ceremonies but hopefully with the procedure undertaken to stringent standards of hygiene, maiming will be a thing of the past.