Rites of Passages , Male & Female Circumstances

When the topic of circumcision comes to light, the male is often associated with this practice that often denotes a rite of passage. However, some cultures around the world perform circumcisions on females , a practice that has attracted varying opinions relating to safety and women’s rights. In this article, you will learn about some cultures that view circumcisions as a rite of passage, including tribes in South Africa.

Female Circumcisions

In Uganda, girls that belong to the Sabiny tribe undergo a process of genital mutilation as a way to enter womanhood. The tradition is meant to bring a pain that some people view as being cruel. If the girl survives the process, she is believed to have proven that she is strong enough to withstand any obstacles that may come her way for the rest of her life.

A female circumcision is completed when the clitoris is partially cut or completely removed from the body. The Sabiny feel that this will make a woman stay faithful to her husband and keep her from being a sexual promiscuous female. The pain is not the only thing that a woman must worry about , the threat of dying during the procedure is high because there are health complications (such as infection) that can occur after a female circumcision is performed. Part of the tradition for the woman is enduring the obstacles associated with the ritual , all in the name of ‘proving herself.’

Male Circumcision

The circumcision of man is a practice that dates back to ancient times. There are cave paintings and imagery found on ancient Egyptian tombs that depict the process. The circumcision of a male is something that appears in many different religions and cultures, including Judaism, Islam and in some Christian churches in Africa.

In South Africa, the Xhosa people observe male circumcision as their chosen rite of passage.  One of the first things to happen is that a male initiate (called an abakwetha) is shaved. He is then taken to the mountains after filling up at a feast held in his honor. A hut built by his family (made especially for him) awaits the boy. He is to stay here over the next couple of weeks. The hut is built in such a way that he is protected from insects and animal threats.

There are no preparation measures taken before a surgeon shows up to perform the circumcision. First, the foreskin is removed (usually with a dull blade). Then, the boy is left by himself. He stays in his hut where he cannot eat or drink until he has completely healed. The process is tough because he faces a high risk of infection. The blade is not sanitary and has been used on many different boys without any sterilization. Because of this, there is the threat of contracting an STD.