CIRCUMCISION has been cited as a preventive measure in the transmission of the deadly HIV and AIDS.
However, recent studies and new discoveries and researches have indicated that a higher risk of contracting the virus was among circumcised, than uncircumcised men.
The practice is very familiar in some traditional sects such as the Varemba and Kalanga.
These people are found in Chiredzi, Mberengwa and Malipati among other places.
In these areas, the sects go in the bush for close to a month where women are taught how to satisfy their husbands in bed while men are taught how to respond to their wives advances.
In Mberengwa, the Varemba people are those that are from Zhou totem.
They go in the bush during the winter season. Most of them are of school going age and they are forced to drop out from school to attend the one-month-long ceremony. On ‘graduation’ or when circumcised, they are given some traditional herbs that leave them more valiant than before.
Their behaviour also changes. Men who ‘graduate’ are given long jointed sjamboks (shamhu) and are allowed to beat anyone who refuses to comply with cultural laws.
It is also alleged that this short-lived period in which they move around with the sjamboks, gives them pride and often are allowed to force women to get intimate with them.
Reports received by The People’s Voice say some girls who go for the ‘bush initiation’ come back ‘wild’ and highly charged to experiment what they were taught.
This practice, however, increases the risk of HIV infection and many drop out of school when they get pregnant.
Government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, has promoted circumcision as it reduces chances of contracting STIs.
Circumcision, it is claimed, will help men reduce infection by 60 percent.
Recent discoveries and studies have indicated that men who are circumcised have a higher risk of contracting the HIV virus than uncircumcised ones.
Generally, the essence behind circumcision was misinterpreted synonymous with protection from HIV infection.
A local physician Mr Ednald Chizvoyi said biblically, the act was acceptable but however it has brought several assumptions which have left people confused.
He said generally, circumcision was a good act as it protects men from transmission of STIs such as HIV/AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhea.
However, he said that it was more common among Jews and Muslims.
“It’s clear to everyone in government that we want to enable Jews, Muslims and other sects that practice circumcision to lead a religious life,” he said.
“Circumcision at an early age is highly significant in the Jewish religion. It is important that Jews are able to practice this custom and freedom of religion is a highly important legal right.”
There has been controversy over circumcision.
Recent reports say two Swiss hospitals announced that they will refrain from performing circumcision on infants unless if it was medically required.
This development came hard on the heels of a German court ruling in Cologne which ruled against non-medical circumcision on the grounds that it constituted irreversible damage to babies’ body.
The dispute over the Jewish and Muslim ritual in Germany has flared up due to the court ruling which branded non-medical circumcision as ‘a severe, irreversible intervention in the completeness of the human body.’
The ruling, whose implications are yet unclear, has enraged Jewish and Muslim organizations alike.
Last week, MDC-T Member of Parliament for Kwekwe Central Blessing Chebundo on ZBC programme, positive talk said circumcision was a good act and should be prioritised, adding that it was imperative for men to undergo circumcision.
He even went on to urge fellow MPs to undertake the exercise which he said was a ‘smart way’.
Chebundo said the 15-minute operation should be done in consultation with female counterparts especially in married men, saying this would help the other part to cooperate as the man will have to abstain from sexual activities for six weeks.
Tafara Ndau who underwent circumcision said he thought it was going to reduce the risk of contracting STIs.
He said these new findings were making him uncomfortable as the process was irreversible, saying he was now shy to live in the community where he was once recognized as a hero by being amongst the first people to be circumcised.
“We were made heroes when we got circumcised long back, but now we are being stigmatized because we no longer have the guts to stand before the same people talking about our hero-ship because we hear that we are exposed to more risk than the uncircumcised men,’ he said.
Several celebrities were circumcised and these include, among others, Winky D who wanted to teach the rest of the country that the procedure was an important one.
Several studies and findings seem to be misleading people but the bottom line is that, abstinence is the best preventive measure as people are now confused by these findings.
The use of condoms and gel as is the case in South Africa have proved to be a non-starter as condoms can burst and the gel is said to have side effects that may end up complicating men’s health.
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