The government is planning to enact into law a bill prohibiting some cultural initiation practices deemed negative such as removal of lower teeth as well as facial scarifications.

The lawmakers, mainly victims of the same cultural “rites of manhood,” now describe the extraction of lower teeth and marking of the forehead as “brutal & primitive!” a source in Juba said.

According to the source, any violation of this law attracts 2 years imprisonment and a fine of 20,000 South Sudanese pounds, an equivalent of 100 USD. No compensation cited to the former victims! A custodian of the tradition from the area, who declined mention, threatens to sue the state legislature in the East African court of Justice for breaching what he terms as “ancestral-time- honored-value.” He urged UNESCO to intervene and stop the state parliament from destroying “cultural heritage.” The new law however upholds male circumcision, a practice still viewed traditionally as a taboo in Greater Upper Nile, former Lakes State and other parts of the country. The decision taken by legislators in Gogrial state sent shockwaves to cultural conservatists in other regions. The cultural marks in question are very much evidence among the older crowd in South Sudan as well as some youth who recently felt victims under the pretext of acquiring “manhood status” as dictated by the tradition.

Via Garang John