Some call it genital mutilation. Others, a effective intervention for HIV prevention. Circumcision, of course, is the surgical removal of the penile foreskin from the glansÔÇöthe fleshy crown of the penis. Although it is steadily becoming one of the most commonly performed procedures, it may be the most controversial.
After getting circumcised at the age of 32, Mathata Tladi hardly has anything positive to say about the procedure. “Circumcision is a painful, risky, unethical surgery that deprives over a million men and or baby boys each year of healthy, functional tissue, while wasting health care money that could be spent on medically necessary services,” he said.
He said it is apparent that the reason why many mothers want to circumcise their boys right after they are born is for them not to look different at the locker rooms. “During my 8 years of marriage, there have been very few issues on which my wife and I fervidly disagreed. Whether or not to circumcise our son was one issue we disagreed,” said Tladi.
In 2013 when they found out that they were having a baby, his wife just assumed he would be circumcised. Tladi, however, remained on the other side of the fence regarding the matter arguing that if he knew then what he knows now; he would have left his foreskin undisturbed. “I see a lot of couples these days give very little thought to circumcision before going on with the procedure and I feel for the little ones who can’t voice how they feel about it,” said Tladi. He said he does not understand why baby boys have to be put through a painful and unnecessary surgery when their bodies could just be left unmodified. “I think they should be left to make that decision themselves when they are old enough,” Tladi said.
Tladi chose to preserve his son’s foreskin purely to guard his right to enjoy sex as thoroughly as nature intended. “Uncircumcised men have stronger sexual sensations because the tip of the penis is not constantly exposed to the everyday elements. I did not believe this until I got the procedure done as an adult,” he said. Tladi said before he got circumcised the sex was way better than after circumcision. “Unfortunately I learnt the hard way that the foreskin has an important role in sexual pleasure due to its specialised, erogenous nerve endings and its natural gliding and lubricating functions,” said Tladi. He said for this reason he will protect his son’s foreskin with his life and ensure that when he is old enough to understand, he will share this with him and allow him to decide for himself.
“I believe women have been hugely influenced by media and society in general to love a circumcised penis. They are also told by their gynecologists to instruct us to circumcise for the health of their vaginas but I strongly disagree. Caring for and cleaning the foreskin is easy. A natural, intact penis requires no special care, beyond gentle washing while bathing. In the case of baby boys, later when the foreskin can be retracted, something that often does not occur until adolescence, a boy can be taught to pull back his foreskin to wash his penis,” said Tladi. He said instead of advocating for circumcision he would rather advice men to be hygienic and faithful, or use condoms to minimise chances of infection.
There are men who argue that circumcision is not an altogether brilliant idea, but there has been reliable research that shows its great benefits. A recent study from the World Health Organisation revealed compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%. Controlled trials have shown that male circumcision provided by well trained health professionals in properly equipped settings is safe. WHO recommendations emphasise that male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence.