Kenya’s circumcision season is a time of community celebration. People of Kenya’s Bukusu ethnic group believe strongly in their traditional circumcision ritual. Not all men in Kenya are excited about the celebration, though. Since the beginning of August, at least 12 Kenyan men from other tribes have been forcibly circumcised, according to MSN News.
— U.S. News (@usnews) August 11, 2014
A Bukusu man explained the Kenyan circumcision ceremony to the BBC, “This a very special occasion for the Bukusu people. It is the time when our boys… become real men.” During this celebration, many uncircumcised men have fled to fields and police stations in order to avoid the forcible removal of foreskin by the people of the Bukusu ethnic group.
The Bukusu are one of 16 of the sub-tribes of the Luhya community. The Luhya generally hold their circumcision ceremonies every two years. The initiates involved in the circumcision ceremonies, which involve feasting and indulging in alcohol, are usually boys between ten and 14 years of age.
— David Sim (@davidsim) August 11, 2014
In the town of Moi’s Bridge, the Bukusu are the dominant ethnic group, but members of the Turkana community also live there. Members of the Turkana community make up the majority of the forced-circumcision victims. MSN News interviewed Michael Ngilimo in Kenya. He said that a family member had his foreskin forcibly cut by members of a group searching house by house for uncircumcised men. Ngilimo said, “They pounced on my uncle and circumcised him and left him there bleeding without treatment. I spent a sleepless nights as my uncle was bleeding. I woke up very early to go and look for medicine.” The Turkana men are usually not circumcised. During the circumcision season, they are primary targets of the forced circumcision. The men leave their homes and sleep in fields, according to Ngilimo.
A local government official said that no arrests have been made against perpetrators of the forced circumcisions. The local Kenyan authorities say that in the future, if the practice continues, charges may be brought up against anyone found guilty of cutting someone’s foreskin against their will. The Bukusu community insists they are within their rights. They believe that since the Turkana are living in an area dominated by Bukusu people, the Turkana should adopt their circumcision custom. Kenya is divided on the issue.
Sometimes the Turkana men marry Bukusu girls. The Bukusu believe men with intact foreskin bring curses to their families. When an intact man from another tribe marries, his wife or in-laws often request that the community hold him down and force him to be circumcised. “The spirit wants but the body is scared,” one leader explained. “So the community helps them overcome their fear.”
One Kenyan man told a BBC reporter of the day he was cut against his will, “I was on my way to town when I was ambushed by the rowdy mob. They took away my bicycle and circumcised me. The following day the police came and took me to hospital. I didn’t get adequate medication – they just bandaged me.”
The traditional circumcision in Kenya uses no anesthesia and has a greater risk of complications than medical circumcisions. Any circumcision includes risks. The Inquisitr recently reported that an Alabama man’s penis was cut off during what was supposed to be a routine medical circumcision. Dr. Ryan McAllister stated that just in the United States, over 100 boys die from circumcision related complications each year. Non-medical circumcisions usually come with even greater risks of various complications. For example, in New York, 16 confirmed cases of herpes have been transmitted by non-medical, Ultra Orthodox Jewish circumcisions. This month in Kenya, a 13-year-old child reportedly lost his penis during a traditional Kenyan circumcision.
Wycliffe Khaemba, of the Bukusu tribe, told a reporter that foreskin prevents men “from performing in bed.” He admitted that while many of the Turkana men are persuaded into their circumcisions, others in the Kenyan community, who he called “cowards,” have to be forced into it for their own good.
[Photo via Jewish Journal]