The BBC reports that five “traditional surgeons” were arrested this month in South Africa following the deaths of at least 20 boys from complications resulting from botched circumcisions. Another 100 boys were injured, in some case experiencing severe beatings.
The boys all belong to the Xhosa ethnic group which uses male circumcision as a rite of passage into adulthood. Typically boys are taken off to a remote location by a group of male adults where they are forced to undergo rigorous circumstances culminating in circumcision. Often the circumcision is performed with crude, unsterilized instruments such as knives.
According to the BBC, a law was recently introduced in South Africa that would make such ritual circumcisions illegal unless those involved are all 18 years of age or older.
South Africa circumcision deaths. The BBC, July 15, 2003.