This article analyses the legal framework surrounding male circumcision (infant and youth) in South Africa, having explained the requirements of international human rights law. Provincial legislation regulating traditional circumcision is detailed, followed by an explanation and analysis of the relevant provisions of the Children's Act 38 of 2005 and its accompanying Regulations.

Thereafter the recently changed context, as evidenced by the current campaign for mass male circumcision as a means of preventing HIV/AIDS, is considered. The implications for the narrow circumstances in which circumcision is legalised by the Children's Act are then explored, and further potential results - in the longer term - for traditional circumcision practices are predicted.

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