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Boy child circumcision is genital mutilation

Well, a dear sister mentioned something about female genital mutilation today. Female genital mutilation is one of the most heinous crimes committed against the girl child under the sun.

I don’t know how prevalent the practice is in Botswana but I am told it exists, in some form, in some tribes. I am yet to understand why we don’t have a specific law against it. But then, we woke up the other year to the reality that we didn’t have a law on the private possession of human tissue. In fact, if Africa, the problem goes beyond the decimation of the genitalia.

It extends to facial and other features. Almost invariably, the practices are done with the specific intention of making the girl child more attractive to his culturally privileged counterpart - the boy child. The practice engenders the thinking that the girl’s child was created to be a tool of sexual satisfaction for the boy child and that how she looks both outwardly and inwardly, must conform to the unfortunate stereotype.

Female genital mutilation has never been done for the benefit of the girl child - prove me wrong. Thanks to this warped up thinking, some girl children, and adult women, live with the idea that satisfying the boy child is one of their purposes in life. We have a long way to go in creating a society where our daughters and sons will coexist in abiding conditions of mutual respect.

Well, my children were not ear pierced until they were much older. I asked and could not get a good reason why they had to be. But why? So they look beautiful? Give me a break. Why does an infant have to look glamorous? They were beautiful with or without ear piercings. I had strong objections to the practice but I was told by both my immediate and extended family to stay in my lane. They win ninety percent of the time. Looking back, I think I should have gone to court for an interdict.

And then some day, my little sister, then under eighteen and at college, came home with a shiny stud on her infant nose. Whatever adult had done that to her ought to have gone to jail. Look she was below, eighteen. She wasn’t responsible for her medical expenses or anything about her life. Just a raging sea of teenage hormones and a head yet to be certified as functional. Had things gone south, and the nose grown exponentially, the family would have had to absorb the costs of buying her a plastic replacement. I made it clear that if I saw any shiny thing on her nose again, I would remove it with pincers and fill up the hole with an adhesive.

Children’s bodies must

be left intact until they are old enough to take decisions about them and to take responsibility for such decisions.  I went to school with peers who had facial scars from razor blade cuts administered by traditional healers. Some of you can relate to what I am talking about. Yes, those double cuts on the cheek or temple.

Why the cuts had to be done on their faces has always been a mystery to me. The fact is that they were permanently disfigured, thanks to adult choices not their own. Well, I am well aware that some parents may have been acting in good faith. For some, it may have been cultural stereotypes. I empathise. I am simply saying we have a war to fight against ignorance and prejudice. Which brings me to my main point.

 It all got me thinking about the violence done to the boy child by all knowing parents who believe that they have a right to decide which part of their penis to keep and which part to throw away. Boy child circumcision is male genital mutilation - period. As parents we are simply custodians of our children’s bodies. We don’t own them. Absent medical reasons, a boy’s penis should be intact at eighteen. How often are boy children put under the knife? For what?

They are not having sex, are they? And they are not benefiting from the sixty percent or whatever HIV risk reduction benefit attributed to safe male circumcision? So leave the children out of it.

Well, I am 43  and uncircumcised. Unless some misguided doctor scares the heck out of me, I am going to the grave with my foreskin. It is my choice and I am happy my parents left it to me. I can remember standing at the urinals with other little boys at Mahalapye Primary School and at Tamocha Primary wondering how weird they looked. Well, perhaps that has been their reality. They saw nothing wrong with it because they knew none other.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with adult circumcision. It is not my writ what adults do with their generative organs even if they cut and threw them away. In fact I support the safe male circumcision drive for those who can benefit from it. Further, I would not quarrel with child circumcision where such is medically advised. But I strongly object to disfiguring a child just because a parent thinks they have a right to. I hope, before I retire from this work, to represent a boy suing his parents for his foreskin.

Chief On Friday



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