The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu Senior Reporter
“CIRCUMCISION improves options, possibilities and opportunities,” wrote one contributor to an online debate on whether women prefer circumcised men.
While no woman will reject a man for being circumcised, some women now refuse to have sexual relations with men who are intact.
The advantages are plenty: it reduces the risk of cervical cancer, HIV infections, the likelihood of premature ejaculation, greatly improves stamina and circumcised men are always cleaner.
Some married women are now advocating for circumcision not only because it improves sex life, but because of the health benefits. The good sex is just a bonus.
Various organisations have tipped women to be the biggest drivers of Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) as they play a colossal role in encouraging their husbands and partners to get circumcised.
Recently, renowned Bulawayo poet Albert Nyathi and his son Mthabisi got circumcised in Bulawayo and one of their biggest supporters was none other than Mrs Caroline Nyathi, Nyathi’s wife and Mthabisi’s mother.
Nyathi said his wife played a leading role in his decision to get circumcised.
“My wife and I debated over circumcision for a while. We looked at the pros and cons of the procedure and even sought medical advice from doctors and after we were convinced about the procedure we decided I should go,” said an elated Nyathi.
He said his wife gave him a push in the right direction and he managed to get circumcised and is now serving as an ambassador for the VMMC programme.
Mrs Nyathi she said she saw the need to get her husband circumcised as she had also seen that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.
“I realised that there were more benefits in him getting circumcised and they were benefits for me too. As you know it reduces the risk of cervical cancer in us women which is a plus, thus the encouragement. Again the issue of HIV is very important,” she said.
Mrs Nyathi said it was vital that women play a leading role in this drive to promote circumcision as there were a number of benefits to it. She said even those women with sons should encourage them to go for the process as there were long term benefits.
But are the majority of the women able to convince their husbands to get circumcised looking at the patriarchal set-up in most communities?
The reality is that some men still view women as a minority that have no say in many issues, sex being one of them.
Women are caught between a rock and a hard place when they have to sell an idea such as circumcision to their husbands as some fear being reprimanded if they bring up such a topic.
Women are supposed to bind the family together and assist in making important decisions in the families but when this role is compromised it becomes a challenge.
Mrs Kumbirai Chikotore, the director of social marketing at Population Services International (PSI), said women should strive to convince their partners to get circumcised.
“Women have a huge role to play in encouraging their husbands to get circumcised; they just have to find a way to bring about the issue as they are also beneficiaries of the process. They are the drivers of change and should strive to see that men come in their numbers,” said Mrs Chikotore.
Mrs Mavis Mashoko said she was afraid of approaching her husband telling him about circumcision.
“I have heard of this circumcision thing but being a woman I am afraid I will get a nasty reaction because where I come from, women are supposed to be careful of what they say to their men and issues of sex are not openly discussed,” said Mrs Mashoko.
In some communities, women are not allowed to openly share their opinions on sexuality. Women tend to be more conservative in this area.
Bulawayo Mayor Councilor Martin Moyo said it was necessary for all males to go for circumcision as it was beneficial to both the men and the women.
“I recommend that all males go for this process as it is beneficial to both,” he said.
He said communities like the Xhosa in Mbembesi in which circumcision was part of tradition, did not recognise men that are not circumcised as it was part of their way of life. He said even young women did not fall in love with uncircumcised men (inkwenkwe).
Sexual changes, besides pain, are one of the greatest fears that men have when it comes to the issue of one getting their foreskin removed.
Several misconceptions have been made that circumcision takes away the sexual pleasure but experts say life goes on once this process is done.
Some women who spoke to the Sunday News said they had found that uncircumcised men tended to have a stronger odour which is detestable. Despite best efforts to keep clean, any skin that is folded on top of other skin would tend to sweat and smell rather quickly even after a good shower.
Hygiene is an essential component life and above all love-some women who commented indicated they were in total support of male circumcision for its contribution to hygiene.
“The campaign should not leave us out as we can influence men to respond positively in this drive. At times society says the men are hard to convince but if the message is put across to them in a good way I am sure we can convince our husbands to get circumcised,” said Mrs Grace Gondo from Bulawayo.
Circumcision is a tradition that dates back centuries ago. However, the origination of male circumcision is not known with certainty. Circumcision generally refers to the removal of the foreskin on the male organ and this has been done for traditional and now medical purposes.
Traditionally it began as a religious sacrifice, as a rite of passage marking a boy’s entry into adulthood and now it has added value and is being done as experts realised that it reduces the chance of one getting the HIV virus by 60 percent. It also reduces the occurrence of cervical cancer in women and improves the levels of hygiene in men.