Circumcision of children is now illegal in South Africa, unless there is a clear diagnosable medical pathology – thanks to amendments to the South African Children’s Rights Act.
Medical indications for circumcision in infants and children are exceedingly rare, and doctors can no longer act perform this previously elective surgery for frivolous reasons or parental request.
All circumcisions require a consent form to be filled out.
Doctors that fail to complete the forms and store until the age of majority are liable for prosecution and legal challenges from the child.
|The Children’s Act of 2005 states the following with regard to male circumcision:
(8) Circumcision of male children under the age of 16 is prohibited, except when
(a) circumcision is performed for religious purposes in accordance with the practices of the religion concerned and in the manner prescribed; or
(b) circumcision is performed for medical reasons on the recommendation of a medical practitioner.
(9) Circumcision of male children older than 16 may only be performed
(a) if the child has given consent to the circumcision in the prescribed manner;
(b) after proper counselling of the child; and
(c) in the manner prescribed.
(10) Taking into consideration the child[‘s age, maturity and stage of development, every male child has the right to refuse circumcision.
HIV prevention is not a valid medical reason to circumcise an infant/child, and is considered illegal in terms of the children's act:
The Human Rights, Law & Ethics Committee of SAMA (South African Medical Association) has issued a statement regarding the proposed CIRCUMCISION OF BABIES FOR SUPPOSED HIV PREVENTION.
They have said:
It is “unethical and illegal to perform circumcision on infant boys in this instance. In particular, the Committee expressed serious concern that not enough scientifically-based evidence was available to confirm that circumcisions prevented HIV contraction and that the public at large was influenced by incorrect and misrepresented information. The Committee reiterated its view that it did not support circumcision to prevent HIV transmission”.
Articles of interest
The treatment of phimosis
Conservative treatment of phimosis, alternatives to radical circumcision
Circumcision medical myths
Doctors opposing circumcision
Nurses opposing circumcision