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Newspaper Coverage of Violence Related to Initiation and Traditional Male Circumcision in South Africa.

This study reports evidence of violence related to initiation and traditional male circumcision (ITMC) in South Africa. Our study conducted a search of the newspaper databases Newsbank and News24 from January 1, 2016, to August 31, 2023, and carried out a content analysis of newspaper articles that referenced violence in South African newspapers. Our initial search yielded 1796 articles; after screening for relevance and duplicates, 41 articles published in 16 South African newspapers and one online source were included in the analysis of the data. Most articles (41%) were published in 2016. Five major types of violence were identified at three unique stages of the ITMC process: (1) bullying; (2) mental and emotional abuse; (3) neglect; (4) physical violence; and (5) gender-based violence. At the pre-initiation stage, the articles reported that boys were forced, abducted, and trafficked into the initiation schools. While at the initiation schools, various forms of bullying, beating, fighting, slapping, assaulting, torturing, burning, neglecting, and physical, mental, and emotional abuse were reported. At the post-initiation stage, physical violence and mental abuse were reported. We noted that some articles reported violence prevention efforts during ITMC. Future research should examine readers' reception of newspaper information about violence associated with ITMC and their awareness of prevention measures. Our findings have implications for public health policy, including the Customary Initiation Act, which provides for the protection of life, the prevention of injuries, and the prevention of all forms of abuse that initiates may be subjected to as a result of initiation practices.

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