Senator raises dust over circumcision

WASHINGTON DC — A Zimbabwean legislator says the Health ministry should stop circumcising children under the 2009 medical male circumcision programme.

Matobo senator Sithembile Mlotshwa said children should be allowed to make their own choices when they grow up instead of being circumcised under this programme funded by international donors.

Mlotshwa said: “I want to take our health minister to task because I believe that you don’t have to circumcise infants.

“In our Constitution, everyone is born with a right to life and I think it is wrong for a father and mother to sit down and decide to circumcise this young child who is a month old whereas the father was circumcised at the age of 40.

“This circumcised man’s parents gave him all these years to mature and know the uses of all the organs of his body so as to decide how best to remake what is God-given.

“So then why does this person want to agree with his wife to circumcise an infant who is a third person who has a right to be fully developed as he is, so that he makes his own decisions about his body organs?”

The controversial lawmaker said she will soon introduce a motion in Parliament to challenge the circumcision of children.

Minister David Parirenyatwa and Population Services International officials running the circumcision programme, were not available for comment.

Zimbabwe introduced a medical male circumcision in 2009 following studies indicating that the procedure reduces chances of contracting HIV by 60%.

More than 40 local members of Parliament volunteered to be circumcised in a campaign hoped to reach 1,2 million males by 2015.

Population Services International (PSI), a United States-based global health agency, is offering the testing and circumcision procedures.

Medical research has shown male circumcision can reduce chances of HIV transmission by 60%.

PSI’s health director Louisa Norman has been quoted as saying: “If we can circumcise 1,2 million men by 2015, we can prevent 750 000 new cases of HIV, which means we can really start to envision a country in which there are no new HIV infections.”

Zimbabwe has 1,1 million people living with HIV, including 150 000 children, according to the country’s National Aids Council.

— VOA

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