June 24, 2013
Namibia: Harmful Male Circumcision Condemned
by Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
Keetmanshoop — Namibian First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba has condemned all practices within the traditional, religious and social environment that are detrimental to the well-being and general development of the African child.
In her statement read by Councillor Jan Schotlz during the commemoration of the Day of the Africa Child held at the J Stephanus Stadium last Friday, Pohamba specifically singled out traditional circumcision as being harmful to children. She said that such social and cultural practices female genital mutilation, infanticide, child labour and forced marriages. "It is about time we examined our positions when it comes to these harmful social practices affecting our children," she said and added that a cursory look at the situation painted a picture that suggested that "we all have thrown [up] our hands in despair, giving an aura of morality to practitioners and believers of these practices."
... She further said there is a growing problem of children subjected to all forms of harmful practices, such as child labour and exploitation; traditional male circumcision of young boys, but also social practices such as neglect, baby dumping, sexual abuse, as well as the phenomena of sugar daddies and sugar mommies. ... Today we are not calling for culture to be done away with, but for all of us to relook some of these practices and to make a decision: is it beneficial or is it harmful. If we find that it is harmful, then I'm calling on all of us today to make a serious effort to do away with these harmful cultural practices," she said
"You are our hope for a better tomorrow. I want to call on all of you, to grab all opportunities at your disposal to equip yourself with knowledge, to study hard, and know where you can report incidents of harmful social and cultural practices and all other forms of violence against children," she emphasised. ... The Day of the African Child is marked on June 16 each year to honour the memory of schoolchildren killed and the courage of all those who marched in 1976 during a demonstration in Soweto, South Africa.
On that day, an estimated 10 000 schoolchildren gathered at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto to protest against an apartheid-inspired education system in that country and to demand instruction in their own languages instead of Afrikaans. The unarmed learners were, however, brutally attacked by the police and in the process an estimated 176 children lost their lives while thousands of them got wounded what has come to be known throughout the world as the "Soweto Uprising."