Saturday, June 28, 2008

Debate over forcced circumcision begins.

Again another follow up on the circumcision story. Since this is the first time it has made the headlines, it has stopped being some sort of quirky ritual the Bagisu practise and now has been thrown out in the open. Uganda has over 50 tribes and only this tribe has the practise. The other tribe, the Sebei, circumcise their women but not the men. Its like way back these two were one tribe and couldn't make up their minds and split up to torture one gender. So it looks like a debate has started on whether the tribe's actions in this case are constitutional. One of the dailies had an editorial about it.

New Vision Editorial

ON Wednesday a group of youth in Kampala grabbed an old man, unzipped his trousers to confirm he was not circumcised, shoved him into a car and drove him to a suburb for forced circumcision. Their argument was that the man, being an ethnic Mugisu, was under obligation to undergo circumcision. This is absurd.

Whereas the Constitution provides for citizens’ rights to practise their culture, this must not be forced on anyone. It is the same constitution which guarantees individual citizens’ rights to liberty and privacy. The youth not only invaded the old man’s privacy, but also subjected him to unnecessary physical pain and psychological torture, let alone exposing him to undue risks of wound contamination. Sadly, this happens to many men every circumcision year. In some cases such militant youth ‘arrest’ an uncircumcised man and circumcise him on site. Such acts only reinforce and justify other harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation.

There are many other traditional practices such as kneeling, and widow inheritance that are generally accepted among certain communities. However, human beings should not be turned into prisoners of culture. Cultures should not infringe on people’s dignity or welfare. Inhuman and degrading treatment should not be allowed.

More importantly, people should be allowed to decide whether they take up a cultural practice.