CHILD: CARE, HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT (U.K), Volume 29, Issue 4: Page 275,
July 2003.

Attitudes and practices regarding circumcision in Turkey

F. Sahin, U. Beyazova and A. Akturk

Department of Pediatric Surgery, Dicle University Medical School, Diyarbakir, Turkey


Background: In Turkey, circumcision is a necessity for boys to gain a masculine identity. In contrast to Western societies, where circumcision is performed in the neonatal period, it is performed at older ages in our population, and the timing may affect the psychosocial well-being of males. The person who performs the operation, a physician or a traditional circumciser, may affect their health as well.

Objective: To provide some information about the practice of circumcision in Turkey, such as timing, by whom and why it is performed in our country, and relation of their fathers' past emotions about their own circumcision to this current practice.

Methods: Questionnaires were filled out in face-to-face interviews with parents of 1235 male children under 16 years of age who attended well-child clinics of Gazi University Hospital and 10 different primary health care centres throughout Ankara, Turkey.

Results: Median age of circumcision was found to be 6 years. Only 14.8% of children were circumcised before 1 year of age. The main reasons for circumcision were religious and traditional. The medical benefits of the procedure outweighed the traditional reasons for only 15.2% of the families. The operation was carried out by a traditional circumciser in 13.3% of the children. Most of the fathers who could remember their own emotions about circumcision confessed that they had been frightened. They remembered the procedure as painful. Indeed, the mean age of their sons' circumcision was close to their own circumcision age.

Conclusions: Traditions still play an important role in the timing of circumcision and by whom and why it is performed in Turkey. Changing times and educational levels do not seem to affect the traditional approach to circumcision.

(File revised 3 November 2006)