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Circumcision

An African Point of View
  • Godfrey B. Tangwa

Abstract

Circumcision, by which I mean any surgical intervention on the genitals of a human being for cultural, religious, or purely secular and profane reasons, has recently become a highly controversial issue reminiscent of such other issues as the abortion debate. Pro-circumcisionists have marshalled as many arguments in its favour as anti-circumcisionists have marshalled against it. Quite interestingly, both sides have used science and the work of eminent scientists to support their respective positions, making it evident that science can be a double-edged sword which lends itself readily as an alibi for strongly held preferences or cultural biases.

In this paper, I discuss circumcision as a rite of passage within an African culture—that of the Nso’ of the north-westem grasslands of Cameroon. I then attempt to provide what I consider cross-cultural arguments against circumcision without prior informed consent, especially routine infant circumcision. I also argue, however, for the availability, in principle, of circumcision under the best medical conditions possible, for well-informed adults who, for any reason, freely insist on undergoing it.

Keywords

Male Circumcision Female Genital Mutilation Female Circumcision Lineage Head Prior Informed Consent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers, New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Godfrey B. Tangwa

There are no affiliations available

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