National legislation needed for initiation schools: CRL

THERE needs to be national legislation on initiation schools, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic communities (CRL) said today (June 14).

“There are great disparities in legislation,” senior manager in research, Matthew Gopane, said in Johannesburg.

“Provinces such as the North West, Western Cape and Mpumalanga still don’t have legislation.”

The CRL had put together a report with the SA Human Rights Commission and the National House of Traditional Leaders on initiation schools in South Africa. The group wanted to ensure that practises in initiation schools were consistent with the Constitution.

Data for the report was collected from public hearings and field research in each province.

Gopane said the problems emanating from initiation schools were botched circumcisions, penis amputations, the deaths of young boys and illegal schools. The biggest problem was in the Eastern Cape.

He said these illegal schools were diminishing the appreciation of the cultural value of male initiation.

“There is a negative perception of the practice.

“Initiation has not had a pleasant history. Apartheid forced it to exist in secrecy,” Gopane said.

Incidents were also badly reported in the media which added to the negativity.

He said a standard national legislative framework had be developed, and a database of qualified practitioners had to be centralised with the institution of traditional leaders.

Traditional leaders were the custodians of the practice of initiation and had to be directly involved in the starting up of initiation schools.

Young boys were sent to initiation schools to be trained and mentored to become men of dignity in their families and in their community.

“It’s a time old tradition, a rite of passage,” Gopane said.

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