Medically assisted circumcision: a safer option for initiation rites

Clement Manineng and David MacLaren
Med J Aust 2014; 201 (10): . || doi: 10.5694/mja14.00230
Published online: 17 November 2014

Culturally sensitive integration of medical circumcision could avert adverse effects at traditional male initiation rites

In many traditional cultures, male initiation rites involve circumcision practices that can sometimes result in medical complications. In a recent incident in the Northern Territory, three young men required airlifting from their Borroloola initiation site to Darwin for medical assistance.1 The risk of permanent harm and potentially fatal outcomes could be decreased if safer options were available during initiation ceremonies. In this article, we report that it is possible to provide safe circumcision at male initiation rites.

  • 1 College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD.
  • 2 Faculty of Health Sciences, Divine Word University, Madang, Papua New Guinea.


We thank Emil Trowalle of East Sepik Provincial AIDS Committee for his leadership in facilitating medical circumcision at male initiation ceremonies in East Sepik Province, PNG.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Hermant N, McClymont A. Anger in NT community after circumcision rite ends with three boys airlifted to hospital. ABC News (Australia) 2014; 23 Jan. (accessed Apr 2014).
  • 2. Buchanan H, Frank R, Couch M, Amos A. The re/making of men and penile modification. In: Manderson L, editor. Technologies of sexuality, identity and sexual health. New York: Rouledge, 2012: 73-94.
  • 3. MacLaren D, Tommbe R, Mafile'o T, et al. Foreskin cutting beliefs and practices and the acceptability of male circumcision for HIV prevention in Papua New Guinea. BMC Public Health 2013; 13: 818. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-818.
  • 4. Vallely A, MacLaren DJ, Kaleva W, et al. Male circumcision for HIV prevention in Papua New Guinea: a summary of research evidence and recommendations for public health following a national policy forum. P N G Med J 2011; 54: 91-108.
  • 5. Tommbe R, MacLaren DJ, Redman-MacLaren M, et al. Researching male circumcision for HIV prevention in Papua New Guinea: a process that incorporates science, faith and culture. Health Res Policy Syst 2013; 11: 44. doi: 10.1186/1478-4505-11-44.


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