The article titled “Life without a penis” (City Press 15/01/2012, p.11) tells a sad story of many South African young men who fall victim to botched circumcisions. The journalist, Loyiso Sidimba, explores a young man’s ordeal and how he has managed to live his life after six years without a penis. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) therefore awards the article a GLAD1 for giving readers facts and figures about traditional circumcisions gone wrong and ways of dealing with the situation.

The Eastern Cape is one of South Africa’s poorest provinces and among the few rural areas where boys are still sent to initiation schools for circumcision ceremonies to mark their passage to manhood. The article provides the reader with figures, for example it mentions that “154 young men lost their penises to botched circumcisions in the Eastern Cape in the five years up to July last year.”

Both the 23 year old victim and his father are given pseudonyms to protect his identity. They are both accessed and they speak about how the situation has affected them. The story further explains that the victim, Mthetheleli* immediately stopped going to school after the incident in fear of being ridiculed by his peers.

A range of sources are used in the article. For example, a clinical psychologist is sourced and accessed in the feature. She speaks about the post traumatic stress, emotional distress and anxiety that an amputee goes through. She enlightens young men who are in the same situation as Mthetheleli on how they should “go through a process of self-acceptance” even though they may have “lost a tangible symbol of their masculinity.”

Loyiso Sidimba also sources a urologist who talks about the procedure of penile reconstruction and how victims should make an effort to seek medical help before the wound gets infected thus avoiding amputation.

MMA praises the City Press for such an insightful and well written piece.

*The name of the victim is concealed to protect his identity

1. On a weekly basis, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, otherwise referred to as “GLADs”, as well as instances where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage, referred to as “MADs”.