Original Research

Circumcision and prevention of HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe: Male genital cutting as a religio-cultural rite

Temba T. Rugwiji
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 1 | a4848 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i1.4848 | © 2018 Temba T. Rugwiji | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 October 2017 | Published: 26 July 2018

About the author(s)

Temba T. Rugwiji, Department of Old Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Circumcision originated from ancient religious (biblical) and cultural societies. Study has shown that in both the biblical (Israelite) context and among the Karanga people in Zimbabwe circumcision emerged as a rite of passage for a boy child’s entry into manhood. Modern societies promulgate circumcision as a preventive method against HIV and AIDS. The present study argues that circumcision tends to promote irresponsible sexual behaviour and trivialises the sacredness of sex. (1) To safeguard societies against the belief that circumcision prevents HIV and AIDS. (2) To sensitise societies that abstinence and condom usage will serve as preventive methods against HIV and AIDS. The study utilises two complimentary methods: (1) comparative literary method which examines both biblical and cultural initiation procedures and (2) qualitative research method in which an interview forms part of the data pool. The potential of a scientific contribution towards transforming both the mind and lifestyle can be guaranteed. The number of individuals opting to be circumcised will decline, and abstinence and condom usage should be promoted towards the prevention of HIV and AIDS. In both ancient Israel and among the Karanga people of Zimbabwe, circumcision was performed as a religious and cultural procedure. In both contexts circumcision was regarded as a rite of passage to prepare a boy child for entry into manhood. The article argued that circumcision does not prevent HIV and AIDS. To the contrary, circumcision tends to endorse promiscuity and unprotected sex, with a potential of increasing HIV and AIDS prevalence.


Circumcision; cultural initiation procedure; foreskin; religious; biblical text; HIV/AIDS; preventive method; Zimbabwe; sex; manhood


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