Is the mass circumcision drive in KwaZulu-Natal involving neonates and children less than 16 years of age legal? What should doctors do?

David Jan McQuoid-Mason


As a result of the revival of male circumcision among Zulu males as a cultural practice and an attempt to reduce the incidence of HIV infection, the KwaZulu-Natal government has implemented a programme of mass circumcision of Zulu males. The question arises whether the implementation of such a programme on neonates and children under 16 years of age is legal in terms of the Constitution and the Children’s Act. The answer hinges on whether the circumcision is done as a cultural practice or for medical reasons. Doctors are provided with guidance as to what they should do when faced with neonates or males under 16 years of age being presented for circumcision.

Author's affiliations

David Jan McQuoid-Mason, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

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Circumcision; KwaZulu-Natal; Protection against HIV; Neonates; Underage boys; Cultural practice; Medical reasons; Guidance for doctors

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2013;103(5):283-284. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.6701

Article History

Date submitted: 2013-01-14
Date published: 2013-03-26

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