July 20, 2012
Editorial: Too many young men are dyingThe proliferation of illegal initiation schools is a threat not just to cultural practices or even young men's lives, but to public health in general.
Judging by the number of deaths – approaching 50 this year – and hospitalisations, it is clear that the cultural practice of initiation in the Eastern Cape is under severe threat from its commodification, which has resulted in the proliferation of illegal schools. At risk are not just lives, or cultural practices, but potentially important public health gains.
But the health department and institutions of traditional leadership need to work together to ensure that initiates are not endangered, and that circumcision is performed in a way that confers its health benefits on initiates.
And both sides need to be held responsible for stopping the needless deaths and mutilation of so many young men.