Traditional male circumcision: Balancing cultural rights and the prevention of serious, avoidable harm

Kevin Gary Behrens


The right to participate in cultural practices should be protected. However, it is a limited right, and does not entail a right to activities that cause serious and avoidable harms. I argue that the harms currently resulting from traditional circumcision are very serious, and that we have an obligation to ensure that the practice is effectively regulated so as to minimise them. 

Author's affiliations

Kevin Gary Behrens, Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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bioethics; traditional circumcision; cultural rights; harm; limitations of cultural rights; regulation of traditional circumcision

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(1):15-16. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.7493

Article History

Date submitted: 2013-09-11
Date published: 2013-10-11

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