NEWS24, South Africa, 15 October 2003.

Ethiopia bans circumcision

15/10/2003 16:00 - (SA)

Addis Ababa - At least 350 traditional circumcisers in northern Ethiopia's Gonder region have agreed to abandon the harmful practice as well as other forms of genital mutilation, the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported on Wednesday.

"The circumcisers and those engaged in harmful traditional practices have decided to abandon them after intensive sensitisation work by health officers," the agency said, quoting the Social Services Centre chief Abebaw Gegit in Gonder's Wored area as saying.

"Some 530 other people engaged in circumcision and other cuttings of the genitals also expressed readiness to quit their practice and throw away the instruments of their trade," Abebaw said.

Ethiopian health officials have said that the HIV/Aids pandemic has been aggravated by traditional medical practices, as instruments often are not sterilised.

ENA said preparations were being made to provide loans to those who abandon the trade to help them make a living in a different way.

Traditional circumcision has long been practised in Ethiopia, mainly on young girls.

(File prepared 18 June 2003)