I want to state some important facts at the beginning:
- If you are against FGM Type 1a (removal of the clitoral hood) you must be against circumcision
- In places where FGM takes places almost always Circumcision takes place under the same circumstances (cutting with glass, boys and girls dying because of infections etc.). Also in this countries this is something mainly done to girls by women and done to boys by men.
- My body my choice. Boys should have a right to decide if an unnecessary operation is done to them. Especially one that alters their sexuality. (Yes there are legitimate reasons for circumcision, too. I was not talking about them)
So let us start with that "uber-post":
My posting on feministing with a translated German article that list the difference forms of male circumcision:
|Hello again, |
before I stard answering your post spike_the_cat I will adress male circumcison here. I must admit that I thought the comment of not being a “fan” of circumscision was quite offending to me. (How would you feel if I say that I am not a fan of female circumcision? This is a babaric crime not a football team!). But then again circumcision of males is not sth seen as brutal as the circumcision for females. I found something you might find interesting (All translated from German):
Different kinds of male genital mutilation
Although the cultures who perform (or performed) genital cutting are clearly a minority, those were distributed all over the world. Another connection is that female genital mutilation only occur in cultures that also always perform male genital mutilations. An investigation found out that not one of the victims wanted to have the circumcision performed. Although certainly always traumatic for them, there are significant differences in the implementation of the ritual and thus also for the psychological consequences. For instance, there is a significant difference whether a boy on the small Pacific island of Tikopia, after he was mentally prepared, gets his foreskin cut in a ceremony, while his relatives are comforting him, or whether a boy in the province of a Islamic state is sent to a "haircut" and then held on a table, while a barber performs his circumcision no matter how he protests.
The following table lists the various forms of male genital mutilation, beginning with the lightest to heaviest known form (except castration). Information concerning the pain are of course very subjective. It is important, whether tissue on the ventral side of the penis is involved, because near the frenulum a heavy concentration of nerves are located. For initiation rituals the infliction of pain is usually intentional.
1. Kind of mutilation
3. Who performs the operation?
5. at what age?
6. still used today?
7. How is the operation done?
9. Pain / anesthesia
2. "civilized" countries in the 19th Century
3. usually a doctor
4. Preventing masturbation
7. The foreskin is pierced twice. A silver wire or even a small padlock is put through the two holes
8. two holes in the foreskin
9. Moderate / no
1. Cut through the frenulum
2. In the Luos in Africa
3. Already initiated youths
4. Initiation rite
5. 12 years or older
6. possibly in rural areas partially replaced by radical circumcisions
7. Various methods:
a. Piercing the frenulum, which will be cut with a ligature within a few days
b. Piercing, and then cutting through the frenulum
c. In the most bizarre form a huge termite is forced to bite through the frenulum
8. The operation shortly before puberty is intended to ensure that the glans of the penis is exposed. No loss of sensitive tissue
9. a: moderate to strong b: strong c: very much / no
2. in the Philippines, on many but not all tribes on the Fiji Islands, on the small Pacific islands of Tikopia (Polynesia), Tangaroa, Ra'ivavae and Niue
3. amateur, an uncle on Tikopia on Ra'ivavae it is self inflicted
4. Initiation rite
5. mostly aged 8 to 10 years (on Niue at the age of 8 years in Fiji during puberty)
6. still used, on the Philippines, however, increasingly replaced by radical circumcisions.
7. a dorsal cut, which cut the foreskin and the glans is exposed, but no tissue removed
8. exposed glans, skin flaps on the underside of the penis
9. strong / no
1. Bizarre form of Superinzision
2. a tribe in Melanesia (western Solomon Islands)
3. an amateur
4. Initiation rite
7. a horizontal cut on the foreskin is made the glans is than forced through
8. exposed glans, skin flaps on the underside of the penis
9. strong / no
1. Special form of Superinzision
2. a tribe in Melanesia (Solomon Islands)
3. an amateur
4. Initiation rite
6. still used
7. there are 4 cuts made in the foreskin, the glans is exposed, but no tissue is removed
8. exposed glans, 4 skin flaps, like a flower, around the glans
9. very strong / no
1. partly circumcision (approximately 1 / 3)
2. A: Judaism into 2nd Century
B: in some African tribes
3. A: trained Mohel
B. an amateur
4. A: biblical commandment
B: initiation rite
5. A: On the 8 th Day after birth
6. A: Not in this lighter form
B: still used
7. The foreskin gets pulled and is partially cut off with a sharp stone (nowadays with a razor blade)
8. partially exposed glans, loss of sensitive tissue
9. very strong / no
1. partly circumcision (at least half to 2 / 3)
2. A: In Islamic countries, Islamic groups
B: African tribes, Aborigines in north-west Australia
C: Western Australia
D: in Western countries
3. A: A barber, a trained cutter, sometimes a doctor
B: an amateur
C: an amateur
D: a doctor
4. A: initiation rite, tradition
D: problems during circumcision
5. A different, always before puberty
D: varies, usually children
6. A: Yes
7. The foreskin gets pulled and is partially cut off with a sharp stone (nowadays with a razor blade) If carried out by a surgeon, both layers of skin are usually sewn
8. completely exposed glans, visible scar, loss of sensitive tissue
9. very strong (with anesthesia: no pain, but possibly unpleasant after-effects) / no or rare (always present at D)
1. plastic surgery, in which the inner layer of skin is removed
2. In civilized countries
3. a doctor
4. problems during circumcision
5. mostly children
7. the inner layer of foreskin is removed, the outer layer of skin is folded inwards and sewn with the glans
8. largely exposed glans, great loss of sensitive tissue. The purpose of the technique, is to keep a certain reserve of skin to make the circumcision scar invisible.
9. no (possibly unpleasant after-effects) / yes
1. radical circumcision
2. A: newborns in the U.S.
B: Canada and Australia
C: South Korea
D: the Philippines
3.A: usually a gynecologist, sometimes a general doctor, seldom a children's doctor
B: a doctor, usually gynecologist
D: a doctor
4.A: tradition (originally to curb masturbation)
C: to emulate the Americans
D: ditto, partly as a substitute for traditional Superinzision
5. A: shortly after birth
C: usually before puberty
D: mostly aged 8 to 10 years
6. A: still often (57%)
B: mostly rare
C: very often
7. The foreskin gets cut, then torn off. Remaining rests of the foreskin is completely cut off . Even the frenulum is sometimes removed.
8. completely exposed glans, great loss of sensitive tissue, visible scar, missing skin usually reserved for erections
9. extremely strong / babies usually not
1. Subincision, lighter form
usually in conjunction with previous circumcision
2. Some aboriginal tribes in Australia
3. an amateur
4. Initiation rite
7. The urethra on the underside of the penis is cut
8. Urinating while standing is impossible
9. strong / no
1. Subincision, heavier form
usually in conjunction with previous circumcision
2. Some aboriginal tribes in Australia
3. an amateur
4. Initiation rite
7. The urethra on the underside of the penis is completely cut
8. Appearance and function of the penis are massively changed. Urinating while standing is impossible
9. extremely strong / no
1. Skinning of the entire penis
2. Africa, a Tribe near the Red Sea
3. an amateur
4. Initiation rite
6. Probably since about 1900 not longer practiced
7. The entire penile skin, including a piece of skin of the pubic mound, is torn off
8. serious mutilation
9. extremely strong / no
Of course not all forms are common anymore but as well as there are female circumcision are performed not in hospitals but in the bush there are as many male circumcision done and a lot of people die because of infections or complications in the wilderness. Note that in most cases NO anestehesia is used (even for babies born in the USA). Interesting to note as well most women that live in countries where female circumcision takes place are for continuing this practice (according to UN studies). Also note that women who were cutted say they feel the same as non-circumcised women. A lot of men act the same way. There are arround 3 or 4 different types of female circumcision. All horrible but most of the time (as far as I understand it) the mildest form is used (removal of the prepuce with or without the excision of part or all of the clitoris) note that not every time the clitoris gets removen). More info here: FGC Education and Networking Project
From Wikipedia about female circumcision:
Female genital cutting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Sexual consequences |
The effect of FGC on a woman's sexual experience varies depending on many factors. FGC does not eliminate sexual pleasure for all women who undergo the procedure. Although sexual excitement and arousal for a woman during intercourse involves a complex series of nerve endings being activated and stimulated in and around her vagina, vulva (labia minora and majora), cervix, uterus and clitoris, psychological response and mindset are also important. 
Lightfoot-Klein (1989) studied circumcised and infibulated females in Sudan, stating, "Contrary to expectations, nearly 90% of all women interviewed said that they experienced orgasm (climax) or had at various periods of their marriage experienced it. Frequency ranged from always to rarely." Lightfoot-Klein stated that the quality of orgasm varied from intense and prolonged, to weak or difficult to achieve.
A study in 2007 found that in some infibulated women, some erectile tissue fundamental to producing pleasure had not been completely excised.
Defibulation of subjects revealed that a part of or the whole of the clitoris was underneath the scar of infibulation. The study found that sexual pleasure and orgasm are still possible after infibulation, and that they rely heavily on cultural influences — when mutilation is lived as a positive experience, orgasm is more likely. When FGC is experienced as traumatic, its frequency drops. The study suggested that FGC women who did not suffer from long-term health consequences and are in a good and fulfilling relationship may enjoy sex, and women who suffered from sexual dysfunction as a result of FGC have a right to sex therapy.
A study by Anthropologist Rogaia M. Abusharaf, found that "circumcision is seen as 'the machinery which liberates the female body from its masculine properties' and for the women she interviewed, it is a source of empowerment and strength". 
The following is from here. Nice ressources:
Circumcision Resource Center
|Recent Medical Studies on Circumcision |
Circumcision Removes the Most Sensitive Parts of the Penis
A sensitivity study of the adult penis in circumcised and uncircumcised men shows that the uncircumcised penis is significantly more sensitive. The most sensitive location on the circumcised penis is the circumcision scar on the ventral surface. Five locations on the uncircumcised penis that are routinely removed at circumcision are significantly more sensitive than the most sensitive location on the circumcised penis.
In addition, the glans (head) of the circumcised penis is less sensitive to fine touch than the glans of the uncircumcised penis. The tip of the foreskin is the most sensitive region of the uncircumcised penis, and it is significantly more sensitive than the most sensitive area of the circumcised penis. Circumcision removes the most sensitive parts of the penis.
This study presents the first extensive testing of fine touch pressure thresholds of the adult penis. The monofiliment testing instruments are calibrated and have been used to test female genital sensitivity.
Sorrells, M. et al., “Fine-Touch Pressure Thresholds in the Adult Penis,” BJU International 99 (2007): 864-869.
Circumcision Results in Significant Loss of Erogenous Tissue
A report published in the British Journal of Urology assessed the type and amount of tissue missing from the adult circumcised penis by examining adult foreskins obtained at autopsy. Investigators found that circumcision removes about one-half of the erogenous tissue on the penile shaft. The foreskin, according to the study, protects the head of the penis and is comprised of unique zones with several kinds of specialized nerves that are important to optimum sexual sensitivity.
Taylor, J. et al., "The Prepuce: Specialized Mucosa of the Penis and Its Loss to Circumcision," BJU 77 (1996): 291–295.
Researchers Demonstrate Traumatic Effects of Circumcision
A team of Canadian researchers produced new evidence that circumcision has long-lasting traumatic effects. An article published in the international medical journal The Lancet reported the effect of infant circumcision on pain response during subsequent routine vaccination. The researchers tested 87 infants at 4 months or 6 months of age. The boys who had been circumcised were more sensitive to pain than the uncircumcised boys. Differences between groups were significant regarding facial action, crying time, and assessments of pain.
The authors believe that "neonatal circumcision may induce long-lasting changes in infant pain behavior because of alterations in the infant’s central neural processing of painful stimuli." They also write that "the long-term consequences of surgery done without anaesthesia are likely to include post-traumatic stress as well as pain. It is therefore possible that the greater vaccination response in the infants circumcised without anaesthesia may represent an infant analogue of a post-traumatic stress disorder triggered by a traumatic and painful event and re-experienced under similar circumstances of pain during vaccination."
Taddio, A. et al., "Effect of Neonatal Circumcision on Pain Response during Subsequent Routine Vaccination," The Lancet 349 (1997): 599–603.
Circumcision Study Halted Due to Trauma
Researchers found circumcision so traumatic that they ended the study early rather than subject any more infants to the operation without anesthesia. Those infants circumcised without anesthesia experienced not only severe pain, but also an increased risk of choking and difficulty breathing. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Up to 96% of infants in some areas of the United States receive no anesthesia during circumcision. No anesthetic currently in use for circumcisions is effective during the most painful parts of the procedure.
Lander, J. et al., "Comparison of Ring Block, Dorsal Penile Nerve Block, and Topical Anesthesia for Neonatal Circumcision," JAMA 278 (1997): 2157–2162.
Poll of Circumcised Men Reveals Harm
A poll of circumcised men published in the British Journal of Urology describes adverse outcomes on men’s health and well-being. Findings showed wide-ranging physical, sexual, and psychological consequences. Some respondents reported prominent scarring and excessive skin loss. Sexual consequences included progressive loss of sensitivity and sexual dysfunction. Emotional distress followed the realization that they were missing a functioning part of their penis. Low-self esteem, resentment, avoidance of intimacy, and depression were also noted.
Hammond, T., "A Preliminary Poll of Men Circumcised in Infancy or Childhood," BJU 83 (1999): suppl. 1: 85–92
Psychological Effects of Circumcision Studied
An article titled "The Psychological Impact of Circumcision" reports that circumcision results in behavioral changes in infants and long-term unrecognized psychological effects on men. The piece reviews the medical literature on infants’ responses to circumcision and concludes, "there is strong evidence that circumcision is overwhelmingly painful and traumatic." The article notes that infants exhibit behavioral changes after circumcision, and some men have strong feelings of anger, shame, distrust, and grief about having been circumcised. In addition, circumcision has been shown to disrupt the mother-infant bond, and some mothers report significant distress after allowing their son to be circumcised. Psychological factors perpetuate circumcision. According to the author, "defending circumcision requires minimizing or dismissing the harm and producing overstated medical claims about protection from future harm. The ongoing denial requires the acceptance of false beliefs and misunderstanding of facts. These psychological factors affect professionals, members of religious groups, and parents involved in the practice."
Expressions from circumcised men are generally lacking because most circumcised men do not understand what circumcision is, emotional repression keeps feelings from awareness, or men may be aware of these feelings but afraid of disclosure.
Goldman, R., "The Psychological Impact of Circumcision," BJU 83 (1999): suppl. 1: 93–102
Serious Consequences of Circumcision Trauma in Adult Men Clinically Observed
Using four case examples that are typical among his clients, a practicing psychiatrist presents clinical findings regarding the serious and sometimes disabling long-term somatic, emotional, and psychological consequences of infant circumcision in adult men. These consequences resemble complex post-traumatic stress disorder and emerge during psychotherapy focused on the resolution of perinatal and developmental trauma. Adult symptoms associated with circumcision trauma include shyness, anger, fear, powerlessness, distrust, low self-esteem, relationship difficulties, and sexual shame. Long-term psychotherapy dealing with early trauma resolution appears to be effective in healing these consequences.
Rhinehart, J., "Neonatal Circumcision Revistited," Transactional Analysis Journal 29 (1999): 215-221
Male Circumcision Affects Female Sexual Enjoyment
A survey of women who have had sexual experience with circumcised and anatomically complete partners showed that the anatomically complete penis was preferred over the circumcised penis. Without the foreskin to provide a movable sleeve of skin, intercourse with a circumcised penis resulted in female discomfort from increased friction, abrasion, and loss of natural secretions. Respondents overwhelmingly concurred that the mechanics of coitus were different for the two groups of men. Unaltered men tended to thrust more gently with shorter strokes.
O’Hara, K. and O’Hara, J., "The Effect of Male Circumcision on the Sexual Enjoyment of the Female Partner," BJU 83 (1999): suppl. 1: 79–84
Why Most Circumcised Men Seem Satisfied
Reports of negative reactions of men to circumcision (see Psychological Impact of Circumcision on Men) are surprising to those who assume that circumcision is a benign procedure. How can the existence of such reports be reconciled with the fact that the majority of circumcised men do not express these feelings about their circumcision? The following factors reduce the likelihood that circumcised men will express dissatisfaction with their circumcision:
1. Circumcised men do not know what they are missing. They believe that the sexual sensitivity they have without a foreskin is "normal." (Similarly, a woman born in Somalia who had been subjected to a severe form of female circumcision insisted that it had no impact. "It's the same thing. There is nothing different about my sexuality.") (1) According to one man who was circumcised as an adult, sex without a foreskin is like sight without color. Those who have not seen in color cannot appreciate what is lost. See Men Circumcised as Adults.
2. Young circumcised men may not notice the negative sexual effects of circumcision until they are older, because of the progressive desensitization of the exposed glans (head of the penis) from exposure and rubbing against clothes. See Functions of the Foreskin. It is possible that circumcision is an unrecognized factor in the high rates of impotence in older American men.
3. Accepting circumcision beliefs and cultural assumptions prevents men from recognizing and feeling their dissatisfaction. A typical response is “When I was young I was told it was necessary for health reasons. I guess I just didn’t question that. I assumed that was so.”
4. The emotions connected with circumcision that may surface are very painful. Repressing them protects men from this pain. A circumcised man recalled, “It was something I just didn’t examine. I put it away in the back of my mind like a lot of guys do.” If the feelings do become conscious, they can still be suppressed. After learning about circumcision, another man said, “I don’t want to be angry about this.”
5. Those who have feelings about their circumcision are generally afraid to express them because their feelings may be dismissed or ridiculed. When asked why he had not revealed his circumcision feelings before, one man said, “I would be looked upon as strange or else people would toss it off lightly.” Another said, “It’s not something that anyone talks about. If it is talked about, it’s in a snickering, comical way which I find disturbing. People laugh about it as if there is something funny going on.”
6. Verbal expression of feelings requires conscious awareness. Because early traumas are generally unconscious, associated feelings are expressed nonverbally through behavioral, emotional, and physiological forms.(2) Attitudes about people, life, and the future may also be affected. An example of an attitude resulting from childhood trauma is “You can’t count on anything or anyone to protect you.”(3)
Lack of awareness and understanding of circumcision, emotional repression, fear of disclosure, and nonverbal expression help keep circumcision feelings a secret.
FEELINGS OF DISSATISFACTION AND HAVING BEEN HARMED
The dissatisfaction of some circumcised men can be described in detail. It has been expressed in an increasing number of letters from men all around the country to the Circumcision Resource Center and to several other organizations that educate the public about circumcision. Moreover, in a recent issue of a major medical journal, twenty men signed a letter saying, “We are all adult men who believe that we have been harmed by circumcision.”( 1) We do not know how widespread the discontent is, but that these feelings exist at all is a noteworthy development and reason for concern.
Following are some statements about circumcision excerpted from letters written by dissatisfied circumcised men and received at the Circumcision Resource Center:
I have felt a deep rage for a long time about this.
My penis feels incomplete, deformed, maimed.
Circumcision has given my life a much diminished and shameful flavor.
The single most traumatic event of my life with the greatest psychological damage was my circumcision as an infant.
Circumcision: it’s taught me how to hate.
Being circumcised has ruined my sex life.
I feel violated and abused.
I have felt unhappy about it all my life.
I am very angry and resentful about this. I’ve had many physical, psychological, and emotional problems all my life.
No one had the right to cut my foreskin off!
I feel cheated at having been robbed of what is my natural birthright.
I never mentioned it to my parents.
I’ve always felt I’m missing normal male experience, and I’m embarrassed when in public dressing rooms.
I feel like the best part of me was severed from my body, and I have ugly scars to remind me. I am so ANGRY!!
The responses of men dissatisfied with their circumcision tend to include at least one of the following feelings:
anger, resentment, revenge, rage, hate
sense of loss, deficiency, diminished body image
disbelief, lack of understanding, confusion
sense of having been victimized, cheated, robbed, raped,
violated, abused, mutilated, deformed
fear, distrust, withdrawal
grief, sadness, pain
envy, jealousy of intact men
Similar feelings were reported in a preliminary survey in which over 300 self-selected circumcised men responded to a request to document the harmful effects of their circumcision.( 2) Over 80 percent of respondents cited emotional harm.
Men Circumcised as Adults
Only men circumcised as adults can experience the difference a foreskin makes. In the Journal of Sex Research, Money and Davison from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported on five such men. Changes included diminished penile sensitivity and less penile gratification. The investigators concluded,
Erotosexually and cosmetically, the operation is, for the most part, contraindicated, and it should be evaluated in terms of possible pathological sequelae.( 1)
Other men circumcised as adults regret the change.
I play guitar and my fingers get callused from playing. That’s similar to what happened to my penis after circumcision.( 2)
After the circumcision there was a major change. It was like night and day.
I lost most sensation. I would give anything to get the feeling back. I would give my house. [This man’s physician persuaded him to be circumcised by warning he could otherwise get penile cancer. When the man complained of the result, the physician replied, “That’s normal” and would not help him.]( 3)
Slowly the area lost its sensitivity, and as it did, I realized I had lost something rather vital. Stimuli that had previously aroused ecstasy had relatively little effect. . . . Circumcision destroys a very joyful aspect of the human experience for males and females.( 4)
The greatest disadvantage of circumcision is the awful loss of sensitivity when the foreskin is removed. . . . On a scale of 10, the intact penis experiences pleasure that is at least 11 or 12; the circumcised penis is lucky to get to 3.( 5)
The sexual differences between a circumcised and uncircumcised penis is . . . like wearing a condom or wearing a glove. . . . Sight without color would be a good analogy. . . . Only being able to see in black and white, for example, rather than seeing in full color would be like experiencing an orgasm with a foreskin and without. There are feelings you’ll just never have without a foreskin.( 6)
After thirty years in the natural state I allowed myself to be persuaded by a physician to have the foreskin removed—not because of any problems at the time, but because, in the physician’s view, there might be problems in the future. That was five years ago and I am sorry I had it done. . . . The sensitivity in the glans has been reduced by at least 50 percent. There it is, unprotected, constantly rubbing against the fabric of whatever I am wearing. In a sense, it has become callused. . . . I seem to have a relatively unresponsive stick where I once had a sexual organ.( 7)
Mothers Who Observed Circumcision
The typical hospital circumcision is done out of view of the mother in a separate room. However, a few are observed by parents, and many Jewish ritual circumcisions are done in the homes of the parents and observed by family and friends. Although some parents may report that this is a positive experience, this is not always the case. Women are more likely than men to report distress from hearing an infant crying. (1) Regarding circumcision, the father is more likely to deny his son’s pain because it could remind him of his own circumcision feelings. Therefore, witnessing the circumcision and the infant’s response can have a particularly shocking effect on the mother. Only recently have some parents been willing to describe their agonizingly painful experiences at their son’s circumcision. Though further research is needed to tell us how common these responses are, the fact that they exist at all is reason for concern and reflection.
Some mothers have written about their experiences with circumcision during the previous year. “It was as close to hell as I ever want to get!” one wrote. Another related this memory:
My tiny son and I sobbed our hearts out. . . . After everything I’d worked for, carrying and nurturing Joseph in the womb, having him at home against no small odds, keeping him by my side constantly since birth, nursing him whenever he needed closeness and nourishment—the circumcision was a horrible violation of all I felt we shared. I cried for days afterward. (2)
Melissa Morrison was having a difficult time seven months after she had watched the (nonritual) circumcision of her son:
I’m finding myself obsessing more and more about it. It’s absolutely horrible. I didn’t know how horrific it was going to be. It was the most gruesome thing I have ever seen in my life. I told the doctor as soon as he was done, if I had a gun I would have killed him. I swear I would be in jail today if I did have a gun. (3)
Two other mothers have reported to the Circumcision Resource Center that watching their son’s circumcision was “the worst day of my life.” Another mother noted that she still felt pain recalling the experience about a year later. She wrote to her son:
I have never heard such screams. . . . Will I ever know what scars this brings to your soul? . . . What is that new look I see in your eyes? I can see pain, a certain sadness, and a loss of trust. (4)
Other mothers clearly remember their son’s circumcision after many years. Miriam Pollack reported fifteen years after the event, “The screams of my baby remain embedded in my bones and haunt my mind.” She added later, “His cry sounded like he was being butchered. I lost my milk.” (5)
Nancy Wainer Cohen recalled her feelings connected with the circumcision of her son, who is now twenty-two:
I heard him cry during the time they were circumcising him. The thing that is most disturbing to me is that I can still hear his cry. . . . It was an assault on him, and on some level it was an assault on me. . . . I will go to my grave hearing that horrible wail, and feeling somewhat responsible, feeling that it was my lack of awareness, my lack of consciousness. I did the best I could, and it wasn’t good enough. (6)
Elizabeth Pickard-Ginsburg vividly remembered her son’s circumcision and its effect on her:
Jesse was shrieking and I had tears streaming down my face. . . . He was screaming and there was no doubt in his scream that he wanted mother, or a mothering figure to come and protect him from this pain!! . . . Jesse screamed so loud that all of a sudden there was no sound! I’ve never heard anything like it!! He was screaming and it went up and then there was no sound and his mouth was just open and his face was full of pain!! I remember something happened inside me . . . the intensity of it was like blowing a fuse! It was too much. We knew something was over. I don’t feel that it ever really healed. . . . I don’t think I can recover from it. It’s a scar. I’ve put a lot of energy into trying to recover. I did some crying and we did some therapy. There’s still a lot of feeling that’s blocked off. It was too intense. . . . We had this beautiful baby boy and seven beautiful days and this beautiful rhythm starting, and it was like something had been shattered!! . . . When he was first born there was a tie with my young one, my newborn. And when the circumcision happened, in order to allow it I had cut off the bond. I had to cut off my natural instincts, and in doing so I cut off a lot of feelings towards Jesse. I cut it off to repress the pain and to repress the natural instinct to stop the circumcision. (7) (italics added)
After several years, Pickard-Ginsburg says she can still feel “an element of detachment” toward her son. Her account is particularly revealing. That she “cut off” feelings toward her son by observing his circumcision suggests that her son may have responded similarly toward her by experiencing his circumcision. Furthermore, because she was willing to feel and communicate the intensity of her pain, we have a clue to why more mothers who observe their son’s circumcision do not report such pain. Denial and repression may keep this extreme pain out of their awareness.
Observing their son’s circumcision has left some parents with a deep feeling of regret. The following quotes are typical:
I am so sorry I was so ignorant about circumcision. Had I witnessed a circumcision first, I never would have consented to having my son circumcised. (8)
Always in the back of my mind I’ve thought, “I wish he hadn’t been cut.” I have apologized to him numerous times. (9)
If I had ever known, I wouldn’t have done this in a million years. (10)
I felt as if I might pass out at the sight of my son lying there, unable to move or defend himself. His screams tore at my heart as his foreskin was heartlessly torn from his penis. Too late to turn back, I knew that this was a terrible mistake and that it was something that no one, especially newborn babies, should ever have to endure. A wave of shock coursed through me—my body feeling nauseatingly sick with guilt and shame. All I could think of was holding and consoling my child, but his pain felt inconsolable—his body rigid with fear and anger—his eyes filled with tears of betrayal. (11)
Some mothers who did not witness the circumcision have since regretted allowing it:
The nurse came to take the baby for the circumcision. I have relived that moment over and over. If I could turn back the hands of time, that would be the one moment I would go back to and say, “I don’t think it’s a good idea. I need another day to think about it” and just hold on to him because I wasn’t sure. I think if I had held on to him it might have turned out differently. I just shouldn’t have let him go when I was so ambivalent. After they took him I went into the shower, and I cried. (12)
When they brought him back to me, I could see that he had been crying and had a glassy, wild look in his eyes. I think it was terror. I didn’t know what had been done to him, but I could tell whatever it was, it hurt. I’ll never forget that look. They probably shattered every bit of trust he had. I’m very angry about it. I would never have done that to my own son. No mother would take a knife to her child. When I looked at his penis, I was again instantly sorry that I had allowed it to be done. (13)
Circumcision is a Women's Issue
• The maternal instincts and experiences of women uniquely qualify them for the important responsibility of caring for infants and protecting them from pain and harm.
• Research demonstrates that women are generally more sensitive than men to the needs and feelings of infants, and newborn infants recognize, prefer, and are more responsive to their mothers.1
• Generally, because they are not themselves circumcised, females are not subject to the personal psychological motivations of circumcised men to perpetuate the practice (e.g., "I want him to look like me").2
• According to a recent study, circumcision can adversely affect female sexual enjoyment.3
• Any adverse psychological consequences of circumcision on males may adversely affect male-female relationships.4
• Because of the prevalence of circumcision in the United States, some potential adverse psychological effects of circumcision on males (known/unknown) may have indirect adverse social effects on women.5
• Mothers sign the majority of hospital circumcision consent forms.6
From a side about Female Genital Mutilation comparing Africa with the USA: FGC Education and Networking Project
|Clitoridectomy and Infibulation in Africa Infant |
Male Circumcision in North America
"She loses only a little piece of the clitoris, just the part that protrudes. The girl does not miss it. She can still feel, after all. There is hardly any pain. Women's pain thresholds are so much higher than men's."
"It's only a little piece of skin. The baby does not feel any pain because his nervous system is not developed yet."
"The parts that are cut away are disgusting and hideous to look at. It is done for the beauty of the suture."
"An uncircumcised penis is a real turn-off. Its disgusting. It looks like the penis of an animal."
"Female circumcision protects the health of a woman. Infibulation prevents the uterus from falling out [uterine prolapse]. It keeps her smelling so sweet that her husband will be pleased. If it is not done, she will stink and get worms in her vagina."
"An uncircumcised penis causes urinary infections and penile cancer. It generates smegma and smegma stinks. A circumcised penis is more hygienic and oral sex with an uncircumcised penis is disgusting to women."
"An uncircumcised vulva is unclean and only the lowest prostitute would leave her daughter uncircumcised. No man would dream of marrying an unclean woman. He would be laughed at by everyone."
"An uncircumcised penis is dirty and only the lowest class of people with no concept of hygiene leave their boys uncircumcised."
"Leaving a girl uncircumcised endangers both her husband and her baby. If the baby's head touches the uncut clitoris during birth, the baby will be born hydrocephalic [excess cranial fluid]. The milk of the mother will become poisonous. If a man's penis touches a woman's clitoris he will become impotent."
"Men have an obligation to their wives to give up their foreskin. An uncircumcised penis will cause cervical cancer in women. It also spreads disease."
"A circumcised woman is sexually more pleasing to her husband. The tighter she is sewn, the more pleasure he has."
"Circumcised men make better lovers because they have more staying power than uncircumcised men."
"All the women in the world are circumcised. It is something that must be done. If there is pain, then that is part of a woman's lot in life."
"Men in all the 'civilized' world are circumcised."
"Doctors do it, so it must be a good thing."
"Doctors do it, so it must be a good thing."
Sudanese grandmother: "In some countries they only cut out the clitoris, but here we do it properly. We scrape our girls clean. If it is properly done, nothing is left, other than a scar. Everything has to be cut away."
My own father, a physician, speaking of ritual circumcision inflicted upon my son: "It is a good thing that I was here to preside. He had quite a long foreskin. I made sure that we gave him a good tight circumcision."
35 year old Sudanese woman: "Yes, I have suffered from chronic pelvic infections and terrible pain for years now. You say that all if this is the result of my circumcision? But I was circumcised over 30 years ago! How can something that was done for me when I was four years old have anything to do with my health now?"
35 years old American male: "I have lost nearly all interest in sex. You might say that I'm becoming impotent. I don't seem to have much sensation in my penis anymore, and it is becoming more and more difficult for me to reach orgasm. You say that this is the result of my circumcision? That doesn't make any sense. I was circumcised 35 years ago, when I was a little boy. How can that affect me in any way now?"
From: The Daily Bruin - Cut circumcision out of the American culture
|Cut circumcision out of the American culture|
| The United States has one of the highest rates of male circumcision in the world, and is the only country that practices infant circumcision for non-religious purposes even though the medical benefits are considered controversial. |
Since there is no medical benefit to male circumcision it is, blatantly, a form of genital mutilation (just as female circumcision or cutting is) and should be outlawed.
Currently, female genital cutting is against federal law. The government has also taken the initiative to educate immigrants from countries where this practice occurs; administer outreach programs to affected communities in the United States, and requires that all directors of international financial institutions oppose loans to countries that practice female genital cutting. It is estimated that 130 million women have undergone female circumcision, and it affects another 2 million annually.
There is no reason for the United States to take such a strong stance on female circumcision and the opposite stance on an analogous technique practiced on men.
However, the situation is changing. A bill was proposed to the California legislature on February 28 of this year and if passed will make male circumcision illegal within the state of California.
People downplay the similarities between male and female circumcision. Just as male circumcision is a part of both Muslim and Jewish religious beliefs, female (as well as male) circumcision is an integral part of the religious and cultural beliefs of certain tribes in Africa.
And while many claim that female circumcision is more physiologically damaging, this depends on the type of circumcision. Some forms of male circumcision are actually more detrimental than certain methods of female circumcision (one involves slitting the urinary tube from the tip to the scrotum, which creates an opening that looks like a vagina).
It would be hypocritical of the United States to take a stance on these atrocities until it rectifies its own practices of genital mutilation.
Some people, notably many doctors, have taken a stance against male circumcision.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement in 1971 declaring “there are no valid medical indications for circumcision in the neonatal period.” They released a similar statement in 1999, and the rate of U.S. male circumcision has been in decline since.
In fact, there is not a single national or international medical association that recommends routine male circumcision.
There is even an organization, Doctors Opposing Circumcision, consisting of physicians from around the world, which alleges that routine neonatal male circumcision is painful, unnecessary and a violation of human rights.
They claim it violates the first tenet of medical practice (do no harm) and all seven principles of the American Medical Association’s code of ethics. They plan to stop secular circumcision by refusing to perform it (non-secular circumcision is not usually performed by doctors). I think, this time, I will trust my doctor.
Other countries have high rates of male circumcision. For example, in South Korea over 90 percent of high-school aged boys are circumcised. However, there is an important difference between South Korea and the United States – a survey of South Korean doctors showed that many still believed it was a medically beneficial procedure.
In the past, medical experts in the United States have claimed many medical justifications for male circumcision, including a lower risk of urinary tract infections; infections under the foreskin, sexually transmitted infections, persistent tight foreskin, and penile, prostate and cervical cancers.
However, there is no evidence that circumcision reduces the rate of cervical cancer in women or prostate cancer in men. And while circumcision can reduce the risk of penile cancer, so can a regular shower (my detailed questioning of uncircumcised males makes me confident that keeping the intact penis clean isn’t that difficult of a task).
Cancer of the penis is also extremely rare, as are infections under the foreskin and persistent tight foreskin, which have all been given as medical bases for preventative circumcision.
Besides, secular circumcision was never intended for hygienic purposes in the first place. During the latter part of the 19th century, when male circumcision began in England, it was performed to cure various diseases of the nervous system (not related to the penis) and to prevent chronic masturbation, which was thought to lead to diseases such as insanity, blindness and epilepsy.
Only after the turn of the century, when it was discovered that masturbation caused none of these things, did the foreskin take the blame for the various diseases listed above.
The only valid reason left for performing male circumcision, if it’s not required by your religion, is for cosmetic purposes. If we began performing routine breast implants on teenage girls, there would be an absolute uproar. And you could use the same argument – aside from a few mess-ups, it doesn’t cause any harm.
So it’s all about physical appearance.
And while I’ll be the first to admit that body image plays a large role in our society, when it comes to sex, as one girl put it, “I’ve never really noticed.” Many did not even know how to tell the difference. I delightedly enlightened quite a few with the aid of a Google image search.
Those who had taken a notice to the physical aspects of their snake-like friends didn’t express any strong preference for one or the other. The most helpful response I got from the ladies was one girl that enthusiastically told me that, “uncircumcised penises are much more fun to play with.”
But the point remains that the United States has no right to accuse some African tribes of violating human rights, when we ourselves are guilty of these charges.
We cannot begin to fight genital mutilation in other parts of the world until we stop the practice on our own soil. Routine male circumcision is a violation of human rights and should, without a doubt, be made strictly illegal.
If you want to get your penis reconstructed (yes, this is possible), e-mail Lara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|GENITAL MUTILATION & THE UNITED NATIONS: |
MALE AND FEMALE CIRCUMCISION, HUMAN RIGHTS,
THE RESTORATION OF SPIRITUAL INTEGRITY & FREEDOM
Presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Sexual Mutilations,
University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, August 9-11, 1996.
The world community is increasingly educated on crimes against humanity, in particular, about individuals practicing genital mutilation, commonly termed circumcision" Genital mutilation affects more than 2 million girl-child victims and more than 13.5 million boy-child victims annually throughout the world. Every two seconds, one child-victim endures genital destruction and sexual torture as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment.
The global proliferation of genital mutilation by circumcisers torturing child-victims incorporates atypical human rights violations: body-dysmorphic disorders, genital destruction, psycho-social impairment, and spiritual death. Universal human rights codes of ethics establish the working definitions, protocols, and provisos of recognizing all victims of genital intolerance and sexual discrimination by advocating grassroots justice. Human rights principles and corrective actions incriminate genital mutilators and their accomplices whose evils deny millions of children their reproductive rights to genital integrity and restitution, and sexual liberation.
Through the systemic history of the United Nations, human rights precedents develop for identifying and reporting international violations of genital mutilation. The mutually-inclusive concepts of gender equality and gender equity categorically recognize the diverse UN "factors and difficulties" of abolishing circumcision. Human rights standards and practices register, as expressed through The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and subsequent UN texts and programs, the social benefits of eradicating all forms of genital mutilation: spiritual integrity and freedom; gender equality and equity; sexual integrity and mental health; economic and social development; educational and scientific rights; religious and cultural freedoms; and, mostly, children's rights.
From NOHARMM Home Page
M A L E
F E M A L E
Is the practice rooted in ancient blood ritual?
Was it initially adopted to suppress or control sexuality?
(Circumcision of U.S. males began when it was adopted from England
in the late 1800s to "prevent" masturbation.)
Did (Is) the practice become (becoming) "medicalized?"
Do cultures use hygiene, medicine, religion or tradition to justify it?
Is it done without anesthesia, and is it painful and traumatic to the child?
Does it carry long-term physical, sexual, emotional or psychological effects?
Does it diminish sexual sensitivity?
Does it abuse or mutilate the child's body?
Is it forced upon the child without his/her consent?
Is it a violation of a person's fundamental human right to his/her own body?
Do the victims learn to accept it as "normal" or defend the practice?
DO AMERICANS WIDELY CONDEMN IT?
F A C T S
[for anatomical clarification and references, visit Question 8 of our FAQ]The prepuce (foreskin) is a natural protective covering for the glans (head) of the penis and is the most erogenous tissue of the penis, containing over 240 feet of nerves and over 1,000 nerve endings.
Average adult foreskin consists of 1-1/2 inches of outer skin and 1-1/2 inches of inner mucosal lining and is 5 inches in circumference (erect). Infant circumcision ultimately destroys what would become 15 square inches of erogenous tissue, or approximately 50% of the adult penile shaft skin and its nervous system.
The naturally adherent, non-retractile infant foreskin is torn from the glans before circumcision. We now know infants DO feel pain. They rarely receive anesthesia and/or post-operative pain management.
85% of the world's males are intact with few foreskin problems. America is the only developed nation left in the world still circumcising most (60%) of its newborn males for non-religious reasons.
Every day in the United States, over 3,300 baby boys are circumcised, more than 1.25 million infants annually, at an annual cost to parents and health insurers exceeding $200 million.
American medicine has failed to prove unequivocally and conclusively that circumcision carries any significant medical advantage over the intact state for the majority of males or their partners. It has also never researched the long-term physical, sexual, emotional or psychological consequences to men of infant circumcision.
Long-term harm includes: skin tags, skin bridges, prominent scars, tight/painful erections, bleeding during sex, bowing/curvature, loss of sensitivity, excessive/painful stimulation needed to orgasm, sexual dysfunction, anger, resentment, feelings of parental betrayal, mutilation/human rights violated, not feeling whole or natural, inferiority to intact males, low self-esteem, addictions or dependencies, etc.
|Isn't NOHARMM’s terminology a little harsh (genital cutting, mutilation, intact, etc.)? |
Much of the language our culture uses to describe this practice is cloaked in euphemisms. It’s a "benign" procedure; it's offered as a "service" to parents; it only involves "a little snip" of "extra skin" that "doesn’t hurt" and "isn’t remembered"; and it has "no effect" on a male’s life. An intellectually honest discussion of this issue acknowledges anatomical reality, recognizes that infant circumcision offers no significant compensating benefits for the loss of the functional prepuce, and validates the experiences of children, as well as the damage endured by the men they become.What do you mean the U.S. is the "largest offender"?
Over 75% of the world’s males are genitally intact. infant circumcision rates in other medically advanced nations are: Canada (<20%), Australia (<10%), Britain and the rest of Europe, Central/South America and Asia (<1%). The U.S. is the last developed nation in the world to circumcise the majority of its newborn males for non-religious, non-medical reasons. The U.S. national average rate of newborn circumcision is 60%. That’s more than 1.25 million babies subjected each year to genital cutting; over 3,300 children per day; one baby every 26 seconds. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (1994), the rate is lowest in the Western U.S. (<34%) and highest in the Midwest (>80%, with some hospitals exceeding 95%).
Circumcision is thousands of years old and hasn’t seemed to have harmed people like the Jews and Moslems. Are you saying they’re damaged?
All individuals, regardless of gender, race or religion, who have had genital cutting imposed upon them as unconsenting children bear various degrees of physical, sexual or psychological wounding. In the movement to protect male children from this, there are many Jews, Moslems, Africans and others from circumcising cultures who can attest to the harm this practice has inflicted on them. Strong family, religious, and cultural influences have, until recently, reinforced denial of these consequences and made it taboo for men to talk openly about their harm. Consequently, the long-term consequences to men of infant circumcision have never been scientifically studied. The human ability to adapt to and cope with this wounding or to remain silent under these pressures varies among individuals, but does not justify the wounding.Circumcision is like immunization, isn't it?
No. Immunization involves injections. Circumcision is surgery, which results in the permanent loss of a healthy, functional body part and has long-term physical, sexual and psychological consequences that have yet to be studied. Unlike immunization, which affects children of both genders, circumcision usually targets one gender and is rooted in cultural custom, religion and social myths. With the exception of some African cultures, where both boys and girls are circumcised, the custom of circumcision is imposed only on male children, as in the United States. Many medical associations recommend immunization, but no national medical association in the world recommends infant circumcision.Don't most people prefer circumcised partners?
Infant circumcision is not a question of what "most people" prefer, since they are not the ones having their sexual organs cut. Altering, or promoting the alteration of, someone else's body without their consent simply to suit another person's sexual preferences is not only incredibly selfish, it's technically criminal assault.Childbirth is painful, why can't men take a little pain from circumcision?
This is not a valid comparison, for numerous reasons. Birth is essential to life, circumcision is not. While birth is an unavoidable natural physiological process, circumcision is an avoidable man-made custom. For women, the question of giving birth, or not, is a conscious choice, while children have no choice in being circumcised. Also, a baby's experience of pain during birth is not a valid excuse for subjecting him to more pain from circumcision. While adult women prepare for and transcend the pain of birth, science has learned that trauma and pain to babies have negative lifelong consequences, which is why it should be minimized. Clearly, the pain of being born does not discriminate on the basis of gender, but in our culture, only boys are subjected to the pain of circumcision. Finally, this is not an issue of circumcising men. We are subjecting innocent babies to painful genital alteration.Isn't losing a foreskin pretty trivial compared to what they do to girls in Africa?
Genital mutilation is not an issue of severity, it’s one of sovereignty. If eradication of FGM were based solely on the notion that it harms health, one would expect women’s leaders to support a reduced form of cutting, comparable to male foreskin amputation, under hygienic and anesthetized medical conditions. That they are virtually unanimous in their opposition to even a "nicking" of the female foreskin indicates that the issue goes beyond severity and is one of sovereignty. Genital cutting of healthy unconsenting individuals fundamentally violates individual autonomy. In both forms of circumcision, adults usurp the child's right of choice before the child has any knowledge or ability to exercise sovereignty over her/his reproductive organs.
Although male genital cutting often exists in areas without female genital cutting, we know that wherever female genitals are cut, male children are also genitally cut. It’s perverse to excuse one cruelty by invoking a worse one. The genitals of both sexes should be left intact without encouraging a "dreadfulness competition" between assaults on little girls or boys.Aren’t you trying to piggyback on the FGC issue?
Not at all. Cutting the genitals of males and females is imposed almost exclusively on defenseless children. Cultural and gender influences that surround genital cutting may differ, yet the undeniablecommon denominators make this a question of principle when the bodies and rights of children are being violated, regardless of whether the victim is a boy or a girl. There are many similarities in attitudes held by those in circumcising cultures. Circumcision advocates resort to trivialization of these customs and irrational defenses. Many women who oppose cutting the genitals of girls understand how cutting boys’genitals is a feminist issue. Circumcision of boys has also been addressed by feminists in the media.What have FGC opponents stated publicly about male genital cutting?
Shamis Dirir(Coordinator, London Black Women’s Health Action Project, interviewed in NOHARMM Health & Human Rights Advocate/July, 1997 - full interview)
"The unnecessary removal of a functioning body organ in the name of tradition, custom or any other non-disease related cause should never be acceptable to the health profession. All childhood circumcisions are violations of human rights and a breach of the fundamental code of medical ethics. It is the moral duty of educated professionals to protect the health and rights of those with little or no social power to protect themselves." Additional Toubia excerpts relevant to male genital mutilation.
If circumcision is so bad, why don't men speak out about it?
They do! Under current cultural conditions, however, most non-intact men still remain ignorant about the important functions of the prepuce and are enculturated to believe that circumcision is beneficial. Many don’t yet know how to identify their harm, while others believe that such effects are "normal" or a "birth defect". Still others deny that they were harmed at all. Until now, many non-intact men who were aware of being harmed felt that no recourse was available to them, or were embarrassed or feared ridicule.
Things are changing. Read the Synopsis of Awakenings, our preliminary poll of over 600 circumcised men about the physical, sexual and psychological consequences of this genital alteration they did not choose.What about parental rights and peoples’ religious freedoms?
Some people claim parents have to make a lot of difficult decisions that are painful or that children may not like, such as making kids eat vegetables, limiting TV habits, what school to go to, immunizations, etc. None of these can be compared to permanent surgical alteration of a child’s genitals. Every individual is born with inherent human rights to physical integrity and self-determination, as well as other rights outlined in numerous human rights treaties signed by almost every nation in the world. Rights and freedoms of one individual are protected only insofar as they do not harm or infringe on the rights of another, including our own children. ["In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others..." Article 29.3 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights]Why does circumcision persist in the U.S.?
Genital cutting of male children in the U.S. persists because it’s a social custom. The custom is reinforced by medical myths based on junk science; widespread sexual ignorance, silently complicit circumcised men; disempowered mothers; the financial motivations of doctors, hospitals, and health insurers; the refusal of government officialsto act on behalf of children for fear of offending parents and religious minorities; and a power structure populated by men and women with irrational attachments to the practice of circumcision. For a deeper look at these factors, read the excerpts from Easy Questions/Hard Answers: Circumcision in American Society in Ann Briggs’ book, "Circumcision: What Every Parent Should Know."Who supports circumcision?
It’s rare for intact men or women to support the removal of healthy functioning sexual tissue from an unconsenting child. Those who do usually have something to gain from it (e.g., respect for "upholding" tradition, support for "political correctness/culturally sensitivity," justification for what was done to them or what they did to their children, support for what they personally find sexually attractive, or, in the case of doctors and religious circumcisers, financial gain). The most ardent supporters of genital mutilation are men and women who are circumcised, trapped in a cycle of abuse handed down to them, which they perpetuate onto their children. In cultures that circumcise females, the males are also circumcised. The blindness of these men to their own mutilation can be an impediment to having any compassion for the mutilation of their daughters. Not all circumcised men and women, however, support genital cutting customs. Increasing numbers of non-intact men and women are learning the functions of natural male/female genitals and how their human rights were violated. We are speaking out!
Ignorance and greed combined to make circumcision a routine medical practice for the better part of this century. During the 1960s and 1970s, circumcision rates peaked in Western countries. Medical studies at the time, now shown to be seriously flawed, pointed to it as a way to prevent illnesses like cancer and urinary tract infections.When it comes to sex, Mother Nature knows best. Endowing males with a highly erogenous sheath (the foreskin) and giving females a pleasure button (the clitoris) ensures enjoyable, long-lasting sex for everyone. Unfortunately, millions of North American males have been deprived of a full sexual experience by a pointless medical exercise: circumcision. Beginning around 1870, circumcision was viewed as a way to discourage masturbation. The idea was that the less sensation a boy had in his penis, the less inclined he would be to play with himself. John Harvey Kellogg, an influential American physician (and inventor of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes) led the ensuing movement in the 1880s to have baby boys routinely circumcised. Fanatically anti-masturbation, he also recommended that girls who masturbated have their clitorises burned with acid.
“In Canada, circumcisions were covered by provincial health insurance until the 80s,” explains John Antonopoulos, president of Montreal’s Circumcision Information Resource Centre. “Now, the United States is the only country in the world that still routinely circumcises male infants for non-religious reasons.”
Nearly 90 per cent of American males are circumcised, even though new evidence reveals the practice to be unnecessary and harmful. Doctors, ethicists and activists worldwide have deemed it inappropriate, unethical, traumatic and invasive.
Tim Hammond, a leading opponent of circumcision and founder of NOHARMM, the U.S. National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males, believes that circumcision in the U.S. is perpetuated by arrogance and the radical American health environment.
“Circumcised males make up the power structure, and they’re defensive about their penises,” says Hammond. “They’re not interested in knowing about the harm done to their penises. That would require them to admit to being wrong.”
The physical, sexual and psychological harm caused by circumcision begins from the moment a baby is strapped into the Circumstraint, a board designed especially for the surgery. Usually performed without anaesthetic, the operation is excruciating for the baby. Research published in medical journals like The Lancet shows that circumcision causes overwhelming pain, traumatic shock and behavioral changes. It also alters babies’ sleep patterns, feeding habits and activity levels, and disturbs the mother-infant bond.
“What is disturbing is that circumcision affects the individual for a lifetime,” says Dr. Ronald Goldman, author of Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma and founder of Boston’s Circumcision Resource Center. “The foreskin is essential to healthy functioning of the penis, protecting it and facilitating intercourse. On the average adult male, the foreskin is 12 square inches of extremely erogenous tissue with unique zones of specialized nerves. That makes it extremely valuable for optimal sexual feeling.”
Goldman adds that the circumcised penis loses sensitivity over time, possibly causing impotence.
“When the penis is in constant contact with clothing and other environments, it becomes callused. The loss of sexual sensation may be part of the reason so many American men in their 40s (40 per cent of them) have experiences of impotence. U.S. impotence rates for all ages are well above those in other countries.”
In Canada, only 25 per cent of the male population has been circumcised, less than 2 per cent for religious reasons. In Europe, less than 10 per cent are circumcised.
“I don’t understand this thing about circumcision,” says Marco Prella, an Italian engineer working in Montreal. “In Europe, we can’t even imagine doing this. There is no reason for it, so why do they do it? It makes no sense.”
In 1996, the Canadian Paediatric Society’s position statement declared: “The Committee does not support recommending circumcision as a routine procedure for newborns.” Without therapeutic value, the surgery now cost parents $100 - $400 and it cannot be performed without written consent from at least one of them.
Margaret Somerville, Founder of McGill’s Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law and an outspoken critic of circumcision in recent years, calls upon doctors and parents to categorically stop performing circumcisions.
“Since it is clearly not a health benefit, circumcision would be considered a non-therapeutic intervention,” says Somerville. “Ethically and legally, parental consent is irrelevant in such a situation. Circumcision removes sexually functioning tissue and causes substantial pain. That makes it a very serious intervention – definitely not one to be consented to by anyone but the individual.”
People’s attitudes about circumcision depend on their sexual experience and knowledge of the issue. While many women have been socialized to believe that uncircumcised males are less clean, ideas are changing.
“I can’t believe some guys think it’s cleaner to be circumcised,” says Anne, a 22-year-old student. “I’m the one with my face in their crotch and I don’t notice a difference. Who had the stupid idea that washing under the foreskin is a chore? I brush my teeth every day. I also wash my labia. Big deal.”
A Montreal woman who gave birth to her first child, a son, three months ago, said she was disturbed when she started to find out about circumcision.
“The idea of cutting off a piece of my newborn baby’s body off is violent and weird,” she said. “He’s so perfect and fine the way he is.”
“Anybody who cuts a boy’s genitals knows it isn’t quite right,” argues Antonopoulos. “In my work, I talk to people every day about it. The more they know about it, the more upset they become. In 15 to 20 years this practice will be obsolete and viewed very badly. It may even be a precarious legal issue.”
|ABC News Chat |
With Dr. George Denniston
ABC News Chat With Dr. George Denniston July 6 A Case Against Circumcision
Circumcision is the most common surgery performed in this country, but is it really necessary? The American Academy of Pediatrics describes circumcision as a procedure that has some medical benefits and some risks.
But doctors like Dr. George Denniston say snipping off a baby boy's foreskin is cruel and unethical. Opponents also say circumcision as a child can result in less sexual pleasure as an adult.
Denniston, founder of Doctors Opposing Circumcision, joined us for a live chat on July 6. The following is a transcript of the chat.
Moderator at 3:00pm EH
We're ready to get started. Before we take questions, Dr. Denniston has some opening remarks he'd like to make.
Dr. George Denniston at 3:02pm ET
Doctors Opposing Circumcision is an international organization that has members in 50 States, and on six continents. We claim that: Circumcision of the male is totally unnecessary, as is circumcision of the female. Circumcising for hygiene is as absurd as removing the eyelid for eye hygiene. Circumcision is painful and harmful in many ways. Anyone who circumcises should have to prove that circumcision does not harm the individual, and they cannot.
Bill from [188.8.131.52], at 3:03pm ET
What would you say to the Jewish parents of a new baby boy? Do you recommend that even Jews refrain from circumcision?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:05pm ET
It is going to be up to Jewish parents to decide what they will do. I am happy to report that many Jews are re-considering this issue. Please read Questioning Circumcision available from Amazon.com.
Pete from webfiler.com at 3:05pm ET
In what way does circumcision affect a mans ability to experience sexual pleasure?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:07pm ET
Circumcision removes half of the normal skin of the penis. It contains thousands of specialized nerve endings, just like the ones in the lips. Since America has a high incidence of impotence and of circumcision, we don't have to prove anything. A doctor who does this unnecessary procedure must have to demonstrate that it does not harm, does not cause impotence and he cannot.
chris from [184.108.40.206], at 3:08pm ET
I have read that men who are not circumcised and if not careful in cleaning themselves can infect women. In personal life experience I found this to be true. What is your answer?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:10pm ET
It turns out that men who are circumcised transmit more Sexually transmitted Diseases than intact men, accord to JAMA study.
As for hygiene, few Americans realize that an intact adult male can easily retract his loose foreskin and look like a circumcised male. Then hygiene is identical.
joe from [220.127.116.11], at 3:11pm ET
Do you think the child feels awkward is his other playmates are circumcised, and he isn't? Or his father is and he isn't?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:12pm ET
It is important to tell an intact child that it is he who is normal, and has not been cut. He is happy to know that and has little difficulty if he knows that.
ali from [18.104.22.168] at 3:14pm ET
Dr. what is the percentages of men circumcised and those who are not. Also, do you know of the percentages worldwide?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:16pm ET
Some have estimated that it is about 50-50 in the US because lots of older men were never done. Right now, 60% of male infants born in the US are cut. 40% are not. On the West coast only 35% are cut.
World wide most of the men who have ever lived are intact. The US is the only country in the entire world that does this to a majority of its sons without a religious reason.
Stephen from [22.214.171.124], at 3:17pm ET
Is foreskin restoration practical? How does it work?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:19pm ET
Foreskin restoration is being done by thousands of American men who resent this part of their body being taken away from them. It is usually done by slowly stretching remaining skin, and does five some protection to the glans, and makes it nearer to the normal state. DOC recognizes that it is normal for a cut male to want to do this.
Mike from [126.96.36.199], at 3:20pm EH
Have any studies been done that show uncircumcised men are less likely to be impotent, or are you simply saying that you THINK that there is a link?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:22pm EH
If the rate of impotence in America is unusually high, and if the rate of circumcision is unusually high, to suspect a link. Those who perform circumcisions should have to prove they are not causing this and many other problems that we recognize may well be related.
Keith from [188.8.131.52], at 3:23pm EH
How can you say that circumcision is cruel and painful to a child? I am circumcised and have no memory of it happening. Do you know of infants that grew up with painful memories?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:25pm EH
Yes I have heard from men who remember clearly the experience of their circumcision. Others have re-experienced it through regression. We now understand much more about infants, and know they feel pain, and are quite intelligent and aware. so we are now looking at this differently than we did before.
Austin from [184.108.40.206], at 3:26pm EH
Does circumcision affect the size of the penis?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:28pm EH
I do not know of any studies that prove this one way or the other. some men definitely claim it does make it smaller. One thing we do know is that if too much skin is removed men may have more difficulty with erections because that is one of the functions of the foreskin - To cover the elongated shaft of an erect penis!
TC from [220.127.116.11] at 3:29pm EH
Why do so many doctors indicate that for health reasons, boys should be circumsized?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:30pm EH
That is the tragedy of circumcision in America. There are several myths that many Americans believe including doctors, and there is tremendous pressure to continue the practice, right or wrong.
Bonnie from [18.104.22.168], at 3:32pm EH
How much pain do you think newborns really feel? How much does the perception of pain vary over the first few days of life?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:34pm EH
Infants in the first few days of life experience this as excruciating pain. A classic article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1987 proved that they feel as much if not more pain than adults. It is much the same during the first few days and weeks of life.
Daren from [22.214.171.124], at 3:36pm EH
What about the men who continually develop infections due to LACK of circumcision.... I know a man who had such severe infections, that he was forced to get circumsised at 30 years old, and now has had NO infections at all ........
Dr. George Denniston at 3:38pm EH
In foreskin-friendly nations in Europe like Finland, the risk of having a circumcision at birth is zero and the rate of needing them for medical reasons is one in 16,667. Very rare. Most infections can easily be treated conservatively, if the doctor cared to, or knew how to. But in America they usually say, "Cut it off!" A strange treatment for infections of any kind.
Kate from [126.96.36.199], at 3:39pm EH
Excuse me, Dr., but TC asked a question that you did not answer. Are there no health indications for circumcision? Are you saying doctors in America do this for fun?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:42pm EH
There are no health reasons for doing circumcision. There are just excuses. Take cancer of the penis. They say it prevents, so cut it off. We say it is very rare 1 in 100,000 and a doctor simply cannot justify removing 100,000 normal useful healthy functioning foreskins to possibly prevent one cancer of the penis in an older man.
rick from [188.8.131.52], at 3:43pm EH
What is your speciality, are you a urologist?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:45pm EH
I am a Clinical Asst Professor in Family Medicine, and am Board Certified in Preventive Medicine. We are appealing to all women to learn more about this tragic procedure and decide for yourselves what you think about it. Please read this issue of Men's Health and our book, Say No to Circumcision, available from Amazon.com.
kelly from [184.108.40.206], at 3:46pm EH
I have first-hand experience with raising uncircumcised boys. They are 10 and 7 and have never had a problem. Typically by the time the foreskin is retractable most boys are capable of cleaning themselves. After all, I had to teach my daughter how to clean herself! My boys have seen circumcised boys and my husband and I explained the difference. They thanked us for leaving them exactly the way they were born. We is everyone so concerned that an uncircumcised boy will be traumatized for life?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:48pm EH
Americans are concerned because they have misinformation. Until recently the correct information has simply not been available. We had trouble getting our articles published in the medical journals. Doctors lose their jobs for refusing to circumcise. Things are changing and the media has finally GOTTEN IT! There is no excuse for doing this, and we must stop.
JBM2 from [220.127.116.11], at 3:50pm EH
what about fathers... have we no say in our son's health?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:54pm EH
Of course, we want to include fathers. It is just much more difficult for them for they have been victimized, and physically harmed. We very much admire those men who having been cut themselves, have the courage to say It should never have been done to me and I will not do it to anyone else. Women are now protected by law in America from having their genitals cut unnecessarily, and hopefully are able to look at this issue a little more objectively. They want to protect their sons fiercely, and when they do realize what is going on they WILL!
Jean from [18.104.22.168], at 3:54pm EH
Many expectant parents are not aware that the procedure is done without anesthesia & some even think it's not painful at all. What are the obstacles to informing them as a routine part of prenatal care?
Dr. George Denniston at 3:56pm EH
You are correct that parents are not properly informed. If they were they would rarely do it. so those who wish to perpetuate this practice withhold information, there is rarely appropriate informed consent. We object to that, especially these days. There is an organization, Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, that is very interested in seeing that this not continue.
andrew from [22.214.171.124], at 3:58pm EH
You say "useful healthy functioning foreskins". Maybe I missed it, but what *exactly* is their 'function'? You've admitted a 1 in 100000 chance of preventing penis cancer (a gamble I'd probably cut a finger off to prevent, never mind foreskin), so what convincing function will be missed without it?
Dr. George Denniston at 4:01pm EH
The foreskin protects the glans the tip thruout life. It is designed to be an internal organ in all mammals. The foreskin is there to cover the elongated shaft of the erect penis. It is longer, don't forget. Where does the skin come from to cover it? that is why some cut penises curve!
The third function is sexual pleasure. Most of the nerve endings are there.
jeff from [126.96.36.199], at 4:03pm EH
If a family decides to circumcise a newly born for religious reasons, would there be ways to reduce/eliminate the pain?
Dr. George Denniston at 4:05pm EH
Rabbis met recently at Yeshiva University in New York, and agreed that if anesthesia is available, it is unethical not to use it, I was told by a mohel who has been anesthetizing for 30 years. I might just suggest that if we have all been so wrong about pain for so long, might we not also be deadly wrong about the entire procedure?
Moderator at 4:14pm EH
That's all the time we have today. Thanks for sending in questions! As always, we wish we could post all of them, but there were just too many.
And thanks to Dr. Denniston for being our guest.
|Prevalance Rate for Impotence: |
approx 1 in 9 or 11.03% or 30 million people in USA
|Male Impotence Myths |
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said: "There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance". Those words still ring true today.
Many of the myths and legends about impotence, borne out of ignorance thousands of years ago, still influence our sexual culture. Primitive cultures believed that male virility was intricately interwoven with power, wealth and domination.
So it's not surprising that beliefs still persist in a number of cultures that to lack virility, or worse still, to be impotent, is to lack the very essence of life. Manhood and the "ability to perform" are inextricably linked, so impotence is viewed as a "lack of manhood".
Despite the fact that the twentieth century brought about radical changes in gender roles, on ethnic, economic, social and cultural levels, sexuality and impotence are still shrouded in mystery, secrecy and a good deal of confusion.
Myth #1 - "Real men" don't experience impotence
ALL men over the age of 30 experience impotence as least once in their lifetime. It's estimated that over 150 million men worldwide have impotence; in fact, reports suggest this figure could be as high as 300 million or more. Estimating the numbers is difficult because less than 2 men in 10 seek treatment for impotence problems.
Impotence (or erectile dysfunction) is defined as the inability to produce and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Impotence is not considered to include lack of libido, inability to ejaculate or achieve orgasm, a lack of strength or the loss of "manhood".
Myth #2 - Impotence is "all in the mind"
Less than 20% of impotence cases have a primary psychological cause. The majority of men with impotence have an underlying physical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or prostate cancer. Stress, anxiety and loss of self-esteem are often secondary psychological factors that occur if the impotence remains undiagnosed and untreated.
Myth #3 - Impotence is a natural part of growing old
Although it's evident that the chances of experiencing impotence increase with age, this is largely due to the increased risk of having an underlying physical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. To compound this factor, a number of medications prescribed for these conditions can cause impotence.
Myth #4 - There is no "cure" for impotence
Although medical science hasn't come up with a permanent "cure" for impotence, a number of very effective therapies are available. Oral medications such as Viagra have revolutionized the treatment of impotence, however impotence pills don't work for everyone. Other safe and effective treatments include vacuum pumps, injections and penile implants.
Once the impotence is effectively treated, most men go on to lead active, satisfying sex lives.
Myth #5 - Impotence is a man's problem
Both partners in a relationship can experience problems when impotence goes untreated. Often failure to communicate and denial of the problem lead to depression, anxiety, and lack of self-esteem for both partners. A tendency to avoid sexual contact can often leave the partner feeling unloved, unattractive and unwanted.
Myth #6 - Impotence is too embarrassing to discuss with anyone
A number of men find it very difficult to discuss any problems they may be experiencing, particularly impotence. Impotence can often be the symptom of an underlying medical condition and won't simply "go away" if it remains untreated.
Once the condition is diagnosed, suitable treatment can begin immediately and the problem can usually be alleviated.
Myth #7 - Men should know all about sex
The general consensus of opinion is that men instinctively know how to have sex. But clinical studies confirm that impotence can result from lack of knowledge and ignorance about the "mechanics" of sex.
A common misconception is that sex is a simple and straightforward process for men. Not true. Many men find it difficult to discuss the subject, and asking questions would reveal their ignorance and lack of knowledge and possibly threaten their masculinity. Media images of the virile male in action only serve to further alienate those men who don't understand "the basics".
Talking to a specialist counselor or therapist will quickly clear up any misconceptions and help overcome problems due to lack of knowledge.
Myth #8 - Men always want sex
The myth that men are always "ready, willing and able" is simply not true. The commonly held misconception of the "dominant male" has been proven to damage the sexual, physical and psychological wellbeing of a number of men.
A recent Swedish study on sexuality and marriage carried out on 286 couples of varying ages found that men who perceived themselves to be the "dominant male" were more likely to experience temporary impotence if sex was requested by their partner, when they weren't in the mood.
Healthy relationships should be about equal partnerships, good communication and respect for the feelings of both individuals. It's not uncommon for one partner to want more frequent sexual activity, and sexual desires can fluctuate between partners and at various times. Discussing these issues reasonably and rationally so that each partner understands the needs of the other helps maintain a happy and healthy sexual relationship.
For more information about impotence, male sexuality, female sexual dysfunction, and many other topics related to impotence and sexuality, please visit http://www.impotence-guide.com.
Another thing to mention. According to Wikipedia less than 0,5% of all circumcision have complications. Lets assume it is 0,5% or 1/200
Oh there is more on the article (including pics *shudders*)
|Complications from circumcision |
Complication rates ranging from 0.06% to 55% have been cited, though a 1993 survey of circumcision complications by Williams and Kapilla put the rate at 2-10%.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), blood loss and infection are the most common complications, but most bleeding is minor and can be stopped by applying pressure. A major survey of circumcision complications by Kaplan in 1983 revealed that the rate of bleeding complications was between 0.1% and 35%. A 1999 study of 48 boys who had complications from traditional male circumcision in Nigeria found that haemorrhage occurred in 52% of boys, infection in 21% and one child had his penis amputated.
Meatal stenosis (a narrowing of the urethral opening) may be a longer-term complication of circumcision. It is thought that because the foreskin no longer protects the meatus, ammonia formed from urine in wet diapers irritates and inflames the exposed urethral opening. Meatal stenosis can lead to discomfort with urination, incontinence, bleeding after urination and urinary tract infections.
One study looking at 354,297 births in Washington State from 1987-1996 found that immediate post-birth complications occurred at a rate of 0.2% in the circumcised babies and at a rate of 0.01% in the uncircumcised babies. The study warned though that this was a conservative estimate because it did not capture the very rare but serious delayed complications associated with circumcisions (eg, necrotizing fasciitis, cellulitis) and the less serious but more common complications such as the circumcision scar or a less than ideal cosmetic result. It also warned that the risks of circumcision "do not seem to be mitigated by the hands of more experienced physicians".
Circumcisions may remove too much or too little skin. If insufficient skin is removed, the child may develop pathological phimosis in later life. Van Howe states that "when operating on the infantile penis, the surgeon cannot adequately judge the appropriate amount of tissue to remove because the penis will change considerably as the child ages, such that a small difference at the time of surgery may translate into a large difference in the adult circumcised penis. To date (1997), there have been no published studies showing the ability of a circumciser to predict the later appearance of the penis."
Cathcart et al. report that 0.5% of boys required a procedure to revise the circumcision.
Other complications include concealed penis, urinary fistulas, chordee, cysts, lymphedema, ulceration of the glans, necrosis of all or part of the penis, hypospadias, epispadias and impotence. Kaplan stated “Virtually all of these complications are preventable with only a modicum of care" and "most such complications occur at the hands of inexperienced operators who are neither urologists nor surgeons.”
An uncommon complication of infant circumcision is skin bridge formation, whereby the end of the severed part of the foreskin fuses to other parts of the penis (normally the glans) on repair. This can result in pain during erections and sometimes minor bleeding can occur if the shaft skin is forcibly retracted. Van Howe advises that to prevent adhesions forming after circumcision, parents should be instructed to retract and clean any skin covering the glans.
Although deaths have been reported, the American Academy of Family Physicians states that death is rare, and cites an estimated death rate of 1 infant in 500,000 from circumcision. Gairdner's 1949 study reported that an average of 16 children per year out of about 90,000 died following circumcision in the UK. He found that most deaths had occurred suddenly under anaesthesia and could not be explained further, but hemorrhage and infection had also proven fatal. Deaths attributed to phimosis and circumcision were grouped together, but Gairdner argued that such deaths were probably due to the circumcision operation. The penis is thought to be lost in 1 in 1,000,000 circumcisions.
How many kids get circumcised a year? Using Cia factbook to estimate:
0-14 years: 20.1% (male 31,257,108/female 29,889,645)
(31,257,108 / 14) / 100 * 0,5 = 11.163 Problems with circumcision a year...
Quote:Lifted from UK site discussing a television program on circumcision http://www.norm-uk.org/
The last person to appear on the programme was Michael Wilks, Chairman of the BMA ethics committee. He was asked if there were any medical reasons for circumcision to be performed. Wilks stated that there were not enough medical benefits to justify the practice.
When asked why the situation was different in the Britain and the United States, Dr Wilks said that in the US circumcision is big business and doctors are making a lot of money from what he described as "a profoundly unethical practice".
Mothers against circumcision
DOCTORS OPPOSING CIRCUMCISION
Catholics against circumcision
Circumcision Information and Resource Pages
Men Circumcised as Adults
What is lost after Circumcision?
National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation o
When a baby boy's natural and intact penis is "circumcised" this is what is lost forever:
*1. The frenar band of soft ridges--the single most pleasure producing zone on the male body. Loss of this densely innervated and reactive belt of tissue reduces the sensitivity of the remaining penis to about that of ordinary skin.
2. Approximately half of the temperature reactive smooth muscle sheath called the dartos fascia.
3. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, a component of the immune system.
*4. An estimated 240 feet of microscopic nerves, including branches of the dorsal nerve.
*5. Between 10,000 to 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types, which can discern slight motion, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations in texture. This loss includes thousands of coiled fine-touch receptors called the Meissner's corpuscles-the most important sensory component in the foreskin.
6. Estrogen receptors - the purpose and value of which are not yet fully understood.
*7. More than 50% of the mobile penile skin, the multi-purpose covering of the glans, that shields all of the specialized penile skin from abrasion, drying, and callusing (by keratin cell layering), and protects it from dirt and other contaminants. The debilitating sexual consequences of keratinizing the glans have never been studied.
8. The immunological defense system of the soft mucosa, which may produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme, also found in mother's milk, and plasma cells, which secrete immunoglobulin antibodies.
9. Lymphatic vessels, the loss of which interrupts the lymph flow within a part of the body's immune system.
*10. The frenulum, the very sensitive "V" shaped web-like tethering structure on the underside of the glans; usually amputated along with the foreskin, or severed, which destroys its functionality.
*11. The apocrine glands of the inner foreskin, which produce pheromones--nature's powerful, silent, invisible behavioral signals to potential sexual partners. They contribute significantly to sexuality. Their loss is unstudied.
12. Ectopic sebaceous glands, which lubricate and moisturize.
*13. The essential "gliding" mechanism. If unfolded and spread outflat, the average adult foreskin measures about 15 square inches, the size of a postcard. This abundance of specialized, self-lubricating mobile skin gives the natural penis its unique hallmark ability to smoothly "glide" in and out within itself--permitting natural non-abrasive masturbation and intercourse, without drying out the vagina or requiring artificial lubricants.
14. The pink to red to dark purple natural coloration of the glans, normally an internal organ--like the tongue.
*15. A significant amount of the penis circumference because its double layered wrapping of loose foreskin is now missing-making the circumcised penis defectively thinner than a full-sized intact penis.
*16. As much as one inch of the erect penis length due to amputation when the connective tissue is torn apart during "circumcision." This shared membrane tightly fuses the foreskin and the glans together while the penis develops. Ripping it apart wounds the glans, leaving it raw and subject to infection, scarring, and shrinkage.
*17. Several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and branches of the dorsal artery. The loss of this dense vascularization interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft and glans of the penis, obviously damaging its natural function and possibly stunting its complete and healthy development.
18. Every year boys lose their penises altogether from botched "circumcisions" and infections-accidents happen. They are then "sexually reassigned" by transgender surgery and must live their lives as females.
19. Every year many boys lose their lives from the complications of medically unnecessary circumcisions. The cause of these deaths area fact the billion dollar per year circumcision industry willfully obscures and conceals.
*(20.) Although not yet proved scientifically, there is considerable new evidence that an incomplete penis loses its capacity for the subtle electromagnetic "cross-communication" that occurs only during contact between two mucous membranes, and which contributes to the perception of sexual ecstasy. In other words, medically unjustified foreskin amputation of boys ultimately diminishes the intensity of orgasms-for both men and women!
*(How "circumcision" reduces the joy of sex)
"Sight Without Color"_Statements by Men Circumcised as Adults
The Unkindest Cut
Call It What It Is: Child Abuse
The big business of circumcision
The role of money in the continuation of circumcision
Answers from the Bible to Questions about Circumcision (if you care)
Circumcision cuts STD risk, major study finds
Is this a bunch of bull, or what? I am a woman but I do have some experience with the natural penis. I have only read a little bit about the benefits of not circumcising. I read this article and am just dumbfounded by it. Can someone tell me, scientifically, HOW? How does some extra skin cause a man to be at more risk for an STD? Frankly, I believe that if it could possibly be proven that an uncircumcised man is at higher risk it is because he brings more pleasure to a woman, therefore, has an increased likelihood of getting laid. I have been with my fair share of men in my life, not so proud to say so, but among them, only 2 have been uncircumcised. They were the best in bed that I have ever had. Unfortunately, before I knew anything, I did have my son circumcised. I wish that I had not. I feel that I took something away from him. Granted, I have never heard a man complaining about being circumcised but then again, it is probably because they don't know anything different. I believe that most people have their kids circumcised because they just don't know what the facts are and it is so common that they just do it without thinking about it.
Msnbc has another circumcision propaganda article up on the magical effect of circ on Aids transmission. Here people discuss the lastest barrage from the cutting brigade:
"What the headlines aren’t saying is that (if the study were flawless) it would take 56 circumcisions to prevent one HIV transmission per year in Uganda. It should be obvious that education in safe sex, treating ulcerative diseases and preventing malaria would be much more cost-effective.
(If other things were equal - there were no genetic factors, the prevailing methods of transmission were the same, it was the same strain of HIV - the figure for the US would be 380, just because of the lower incidence of HIV. Each of those factors means it would actually be much higher.)
The people with pro-circumcision studies are fond of running to the media. After they have been critiqued in peer-reviewed journals they look much less impressive, but by that time the meme “Circumcision prevents ****” is on its way, and the rebuttals never get the same publicity. This has already happened to last month’s “circumcision prevents sexually transmitted diseases” study.
Some of the flaws with these studies at are spelt out at http://www.circumstitions.com/HIV.html#summary"
here is a site in Australia which also addresses this "new" development. The Aussies stopped routine circ a long time ago although it hasn't ended altogether.
"Most doctors are opposed to circumcision and will not perform the operation without genuine medical need (a rare situation). The fanatics have given up trying to influence responsible medical and scientific bodies; instead, they aim to use the popular media to frighten parents into putting pressure on doctors to agree to their demands. Circumcision was a Victorian medical fad which should have gone out with neck-to-knee bathing costumes, blood-letting, frontal lobotomies, and the idea that children should be seen and not heard. The practice survived because it became deeply entrenched in the culture of English-speaking countries, and seen as normal, or at least acceptable: few people came to regard it with the same revulsion as they would look upon surgical alterations to the genitals of girls."
In response to the request for links relating to infant deaths please find that sad information below:
the excerpts below are from the above link.
(Excessive bleeding is one of the two most frequent complications, after pain. While usually managed within a hospital setting, it can require transfusions, with the attendant blood supply risks for HIV and other disease organisms. However, sometimes babies die as a result, such as the baby mentioned in the Des Moines (Iowa) Register which reported on November 20, 1982 the bleeding death of an infant following circumcision. Another similar incident was reported in the June 26, 1993 issue of the Miami Herald.)
(Such errors range from the slipped scalpel that cost a Marin County baby the tip of his penis in May 1993 (as reported July 8th in the Bay Area Reporter), to the two boys who lost their entire penis during circumcision in November 1985 at Atlanta's Northside Hospital, as reported by the East Cobb Neighbor. But those are rare and extreme examples. It is much more common for too much skin to be taken off, ranging from total denudation of the penis which requires skin grafting, to merely chronic painful erections for the rest of the patient's life, and possible bowing and curvatures resulting from uneven pull of the remaining skin. The Williams and Kapila paper is replete with descriptions of surgical mishap. Another good reference with plenty of gory pictures is: Pediatric Trauma, ed. Robert J. Toulakian MD, Yale University School of Medicine, publ. John Wiley & Sons.)
the above link shows that through estimated statistics one infant boy dies from circumcision every 152 days. Most in the medical community attribute the death to another cause therefore causing inaccurate reporting. (Such as infection at the wound site, causing infection spreading throughout the body and leading them to blame death on the infection in the body not the primary source.)
The next link shows graphic images of potential risks related to this mutilation. Please proceed with caution.
Please read down the page to view the excerpt from the link below in its entirety.
Circumcision is major surgery with inherent risks, including death. Recently in Queensland a baby boy died as a result of circumcision complications. Rosemary Romberg notes 28 known risks associated with circumcision in Circumcision: The painful dilemma. Among these complications are haemorrhage, ulcerated urethral opening, retention of the Plastibell ring, urethral punctures and full or partial amputation of the penis. Wallerstein claims there could be up to 225 deaths per year in the United States from circumcision complications. Circumcision records in hospitals are very often incomplete or non-existent. I've often wondered how many babies are listed as dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when the real cause of death is circumcision.
I hope the above links provide you with enough information. Again, I stress that yes there is a risk in any surgery for the potential of death, but most surgeries are performed as medically necessary procedures, this is not always the case.
U.N. urges adult men to get circumcised
Here is some analysis of the famous HIV virus transferral studies.
Look at those numbers again:
Study results show that 22 of the 1,393 circumcised men in the study contracted HIV, compared to 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men. In other words, circumcised men had 53 percent fewer HIV infections than uncircumcised men.In other words, uncircumcised men in the study had a 3.4 percent infection rate, and circumcised men had a 1.6 percent infection rate. True, that is a 53 percent reduction, and every case of HIV is well worth preventing.
But how many men would sign up for circumcision if they knew that their actual risk reduction was the mere 1.8 percent difference between the two numbers? And how does this reduction compare to other measures, like the consistent use of condoms?
here are some in the medical field who are not so enthralled by infant penis mutilation
The Nurses of St. Vincent: Saying "No" to Circumcision YouTube
The 2nd link includes quotes from people who have performed or assisted in the "procedure". Here is one.
"Expose yourself on a DAILY basis - and not just to the "good" ones. It is horrific. Whacking off skin with a knife without anesthesia is horrible. Man, you didn't want an episiotomy without an epidural - why can't your child have the same consideration? I have seen so many 'hack' jobs, where sometimes we wonder if this child will ever be able to urinate or have sex when he is older. I have seen babies literally roll their eyes into the back of their heads. I have witnessed pain like no other human being has felt pain - and for what??? Because people think he will forget it in a matter of minutes????"-- Tena, Labor and Delivery Nurse who assists with circumcisions. (3/99)
Click to view imageClick to view image
Here a Russian-born American lady who advocates "conscious" birth gives her take on this Amerikan phenomenon
[which is routinely performed on male babies born in the U.S. (The American Academy of Pediatrics said in 1999: "Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.")]:
It is the most exquisite torture there is because the nerve endings are the most sensitive in the body. Twenty thousand of the most exquisite erogenous nerve endings are in the foreskin of the penis, and it is cut off like a piece of fabric! America is so against female circumcision, but male circumcision is done every day. Babies actually do feel it, and the message they get is, "Oh, I'm not supposed to be a feeling, understanding being."In the film, you hear the doctor while he is cutting, he's telling the [medical] students that the baby doesn't feel anything, because that's what the books and professors say. But you see the look on the baby's face and hear him screaming his heart out. Such a traumatic interference sends that baby's neurosystem into shock.
(cont) The one or two males who were intact were actually deemed a little odd by everyone else. Growing up, I thought I was the 'normal' one. Never really thought about it much. I did notice that my glans look a lot different from uncut guys, mine looks slightly calloused, where an intact guy looked pink and moist and ALIVE.
Now well into my adult years, I am so disgusted that I had this procedure performed on me without my consent. I don't have much feeling in my glans, I only have true feeling under the 'ridge' of the glans. It can take me forever and a day to reach an orgasm sometimes.
Now, today, I know that the intact man is the way we were meant to be and I think the uncircumcised penis is beautiful and natural...and the way it should be. I wish every day that I had my foreskin. But now I am thinking of restoration. I miss this vital part of my body each and every day. I can't get it out of my mind how I have been mutilated against my will. I don't have any of the horror stories to tell like some men who's penises have actually been deformed or made disfunctional by circumsicion..but I am equally at a loss. I wish my body was normal. So now I have to figure out if I can find a method of restoration that is going to work and is compatible with my life. I know that I will never get everthing back, the nerves, the sensations, but I want my penis to be normal again.
This procedure should be outlawed, except for the most extreme cases. Or by an adult individual's own decision!"
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"I imagine the purpose of circumcision in a lot of cases is to do with bonding. Becoming a man amongst men. One of us. Well it didn't work with me because I've never felt 'one of us'. I was brought up to keep my naked body a secret. I didn't even know about circumcision until I was 14 and a teacher explained (to my horror). Whereas now I think what I've missed out on - little boys should be allowed to feel proud of their penises. I did try to tell my father once, that I thought it was horrible and wrong and he was furious that 1) I mentioned it at all, 2) I thought that way- other friends would be proud if they had been done 3) how would I like to be really deformed as in a cleft palate or club foot?
Now I keep myself very fit in the gym but am often too embarrassed to undress in front of other people or shower for fear of what they're thinking. It's losing an innocence or beauty. "
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"I was circumcised in adulthood for a reason I have since found out was unnecessary. I was not advised on how it would affect me physically or indeed the possibility of psychological problems. I greatly missed the sensitivity and soon came to hate the 'exposed' feeling. Believe me, sex without a foreskin is only a fraction as good as with one!"
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"Circumcision is not done in good faith by the medical profession. The 'medical' reasons given for circumcision are so absurd and phoney as to be utterly ridiculous. Every doctor knows that uncircumcised little boys like to touch their foreskins because it feels nice. Every doctor knows that the real reason little boys are circumcised is to deprive them of the ability to obtain physical pleasure form touching their foreskins. To mutilate the genitals of a defenceless little boy for this reason is an act of evil and wickedness beyond belief. Circumcision is medical fraud- fraud of the most wicked, despicable and abominable kind. The circumcised penis looks hideous and revolting. The glans of the circumcised penis chafes forever against underwear.
Circumcision for cleanliness and hygiene? Drivel. "
It so so outrageous that the US is paying for all of this HIV circ nonsense. The study is bad science and the highest rate they got was a bit over 50%. But the condom use instructions were different and there was really no way for then to know who did use condoms. Also, the other study by Bill Gates had a higher rate of man to woman transmission for the circed guys. Implementing this circ thing could raise the rate.
Now it turns out that female circ also could lower aids. Who is ready for us to pay for that!!!
We need to stop this madness and send them condoms.
A Tanzanian study has found that female circumcision reduces HIV transmission. Biologically, the explanation for this is probably the same as for male circumcision.
If female circumcision is medicalised in a similar way to male circumcision, it can be made safer and less damaging.
"The downplaying of these facts in the media is a powerful reflection of Western cultural attitudes," they said.
"We have already decided that female circumcision is an appalling human rights violation and so do not even flirt with the idea of using it as an HIV prevention tool.
"Similar arguments apply to mastectomy in teenage girls, even though this would be effective to prevent breast cancer in later life.
"The difference with male circumcision is that it is still tolerated
When my son was born, a number of WOMEN doctors kept harassing my wife, trying to get her to sign the paperwork to have our son circumcised. One of them even tried to convince us that not having him circumcised was tantamount to child abuse.
2 days after my son was born, I was visiting and one of the nurses came in and gave me the paperwork for my son to be circumcised and told me that all it would take is one parent to sign for it. I asked her if they circumcised female babies, and she called it barbaric. I asked her what the difference was. She said there were health benefits to it, I told her that as a woman, she had no right to make such a judgment, and that there has been no proof that a circumcision is beneficial, and that the majority of the time when a circumcision is done by a woman, the child experiences a lot of pain, and the chances of messing it up are higher, due to the typical woman that performs such a barbaric act does not use as much painkillers, if at all, and the child is more likely to flinch, which can have some nasty effects. She called me a male pig. I told her that that was uncalled for, and to stop harassing us about it.
|This is an expanded and more fully referenced version of an essay of mine published in Contexts magazine, Spring 2005. |
People have always eaten people,
What else is there to eat?
If the Juju had meant us not to eat people
He wouldn’t have made us of meat.
— Flanders and Swan, “The Reluctant Cannibal”
The unquestioning acceptance of routine circumcision of a newborn … deserves a hard look and wide-ranging debate.
— Marianne Legato, “Rethinking circumcision” 
The pediatrician spent hours resuscitating and assessing the injuries of a boy who had been born unable to breathe, without a pulse, and with a broken humerus and depressed skull fracture resulting from a difficult forceps delivery. He then visited the mother, whose first question was “When can he be circumcised?”  Such a sense of priorities spotlights the privileged place of male circumcision in modern America and highlights the difficulties in explaining what Edward Wallerstein has called “the uniquely American medical enigma”: why routine circumcision  persists in the United States long after it has been abandoned in the other English-speaking countries which originally took it up. Despite statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 1971, 1975, 1978 and 1983, he noted in 1985 that the practice had abated little.  Even today, after further statements in 1989 and 1999, the operation is performed on well over half of all of newborns. 
An American paradox
The American situation remains a conundrum: why has a custom initiated by our Victorian forebears continued to prosper in the age of medical miracles, and in the world’s most scientifically advanced superpower at that? Some doctors blame parents for demanding circumcision, while parents accuse physicians of suggesting, and even urging the operation, and of not warning them about possible risks and adverse effects. Critically-minded pediatricians admit that the “circumcision decision” is no longer a medical one, but a “cultural ritual”,  and call for “the organized advocacy of lay groups … rather than the efforts of the medical profession”,  while others object to the interference of “outsiders” in what they insist is a strictly clinical question. Wallerstein felt the practice continued because both “medical and popular literature abounds in serious errors of scientific judgement, equivocation and obfuscation”, with the result that the medical profession is reluctant to take a firm and consistent stand. Although few think there is any compelling value in circumcision, and many regard it as cruel and harmful, doctors seem mesmerised by the force of parental demand and social expectation; like the sorcerer’s apprentice in Fantasia, they watch helplessly as the waters mount, waiting for the master magician to return and restore normality.
The US experience stands in sharp contrast with that of the other countries in which routine circumcision became common. In Britain the procedure was widely recommended in the 1890s, reached its peak of popularity in the 1920s (a rate of about 35 per cent), declined in the 1950s and all but disappeared in the 1960s. In Australia the incidence of circumcision peaked at over 80 per cent in the 1950s, but declined rapidly in the 1980s after statements by pediatric authorities, and now stands at about 12 per cent. The Canadian pattern is broadly similar to the Australian, though the decline was slower until the late 1990s, when rates fell sharply. In New Zealand the procedure was nearly universal between the wars, but fell so precipitately in the 1960s that it now affects less than 2 per cent of boys.  We thus face a classic puzzle of comparative sociology: Why did routine circumcision arise in the first place? Why only in Anglophone countries? Why did it decline and all but vanish in Britain and its dominions? Why does it survive in the United States?
Nobody has firm answers to these questions. The rise of circumcision was associated with the “great fear” of masturbation and anxiety about juvenile sexuality generally; the misidentification of infantile phimosis as a congenital abnormality; the rise of puritan moralities in the nineteenth century; dread of many incurable diseases, especially syphilis; and the rising prestige of the medical profession, particularly surgeons, leading to excessive faith in surgical approaches to disease control and prevention. Most of these features were common to all European countries, however, and the factors which provoked the Anglophone Sonderweg remain obscure. (Perhaps language itself is the key.) The fall of circumcision in Britain was associated with the rise of modern medicine, especially the discovery of antibiotics; the decline of anxiety about masturbation; concern about complications and deaths; and the development of a more positive attitude to sexual pleasure. In 1979 an editorial in the British Medical Journal attributed much of the trend to better understanding of normal anatomical development and the consequent disappearance of fears about childhood phimosis. 
Incidence of circumcision
There has been remarkably little research into this problem. Circumcision is a highly controversial subject, and the literature is vast, but most of the debate remains at a fairly childish level (the “pros and cons”) and focuses on whether it should be done, not on why the practice continues; defenders of the practice regard circumcision of infants as an unproblematic hygiene precaution, or at least a parent’s right to choose, and often become annoyed when critics ask them to justify it. Discussion of the issue has been hampered by uncertainty as to the incidence of routine circumcision, its social distribution and the reasons parents want it or agree to have it done. There has been a significant decline since the 1970s, but it has been neither steady nor uniform across the country. From 85 per cent of newborns in the 1970s, the rate fell to 60 per cent in 1988, rose again to 67 per cent in 1995, then fell slightly to 65 per cent in 1999 – the last year for which authoritative figures are available, though a substantial reduction since then has been claimed.  The incidence of circumcision varies significantly by region, and nearly all the reduction observed has occurred in the west, particularly California, where it fell from 63 per cent in 1979 to 36 per cent in 1999. In the north-east the rate has remained constant at about 65 per cent over the same period, while in the mid-west and south it has actually increased – from 74 to 81 per cent and 55 to 64 per cent respectively. 
Other variations are found on the basis of ethnic origin and education level. When Edward Laumann and colleagues analysed data from the National Health and Social Life Survey (covering men aged 18 to 59) he found that while 81 per cent of whites were circumcised, the figure was only 65 per cent for Blacks and 54 per cent for Hispanics. Where 87 per cent of men whose mothers were college graduates were circumcised, the figure for those whose mothers did not complete high school was only 62 per cent.  Laumann also found that circumcision was less common among conservative Protestants, but noted that all these differences shrank as the sample got younger, suggesting that the trend was towards homogeneity. We can thus say that circumcision is rarer among Blacks and Hispanics (though more common than it was), and probably non-Muslim Asians; among the less educated; and in the western states; but we can’t know which of these is the decisive variable. It may be that Blacks, Hispanics and Asians tend to be less educated than whites, and also to be concentrated in the south and west. Laumann did not consider the impact of economic factors such as financial incentive, yet there is evidence that this may be the most important influence of all: in 1982 California dropped medically unnecessary circumcision from the schedule of benefits covered by Medicaid, and the practice went into steady decline.
Medical arguments invalid
Preventive posthectomy has always been an experimental and controversial surgery, never one endorsed by the medical profession as a whole. Given the uncertainty of its benefits, the high risk of harm, and the significance of the organ being so dramatically altered, you might expect a few ultra-nervous adults to elect it for themselves, but not that it would be inflicted on millions of babies who had never even inquired. These days it is only a few superannuated diehards who seriously believe that circumcision confers meaningful health benefits, and nobody suggests that the practice continues because the inhabitants of Indiana are healthier than those of California, or Americans in general are healthier than the populations of countries where the practice is rare. Indeed, readily available statistics suggest the opposite scenario. Although health spending per head in the USA is vastly greater than anywhere (over 14 per cent of GDP), health outcomes on key indicators such as infant mortality, life expectancy and the incidence of STDs are significantly worse than in comparably developed countries where most men retain their foreskins. (See Tables 1 and 2.) Far from circumcision being a protection against STDs as often claimed, Laumann found that circumcised men had more STDs, both bacterial and viral, than the uncut; and it is well known that the USA has the highest incidence of HIV infection of any country in the developed world except Portugal.
Although advocates of mass circumcision as a strategy against AIDS are constantly calling for randomised trials, the circumcision experiment has already been performed in the United States. How successful has it been? With the highest rate of circumcision, the USA also has higher rates of infant mortality ans shorrter male life-expectancy than similar developed nations; the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases of any developed nation; the highest rates (by far) of heterosexually transmitted HIV infection of any developed nation; and rates of cervical and penile cancer that are similar to those of other developed nations. (See Table 3.) Yet these are the very diseases that circumcision has been touted as a sure preventive for: any impartial observer must conclude that the century-long experiment has failed.
A similar informal experiment in Australia has actually found that children's health has improved as circumcision has declined. A report issued by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2005 (A picture of Australia's children) found that since 1983 children's health had improved markedly, and that infant mortality had halved, from 9.6 per 1000 live births in 1983 to 4.8 live births in 2003. These dates are very significant, since 1983 was the year in which the Australian College of Paediatrics issued a policy to discourage circumcision, and it was the start of the huge slide in circumcision incidence, from about 40 per cent to less than 12 per cent of baby boys. The report is striking proof that "lack of circumcision" does not increase child health problems. Even more significantly, it is a decisive refutation of "scientific" predictions by circumcision crusaders such as Terry Russell and Brian Morris that the fall in the circumcision rate would lead to an explosion of genito-urinary problems in boys. No such problems are identified in this report. In fact, if one were to be as unscrupulous in conflating correlation with causation as many pro-circumcision zealots tend to be, one might conclude that Australian children have become healthier not just at the same time as the incidence of circumcision has fallen, but because the incidence has fallen. But at the very least it is incontrovertible that there is zero connection between circumcision and improved health outcomes.
The report can be downloaded in several pdfs here.
The very scale and status of the American health industry may be part of the problem, for as Shannon Brownlee has observed, there is good evidence that too much medical care may be worse than not enough.  A recent investigation into hospital safety found that “adverse events” occurred so frequently in hospital admissions, and so many of these led to death, that errors in medical treatment could be the eighth highest cause of death – at 44,000 per year, exceeding deaths from motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297) and AIDS (16,516).  Since the risk of dying from medical misadventure is so much greater than the risk of dying from penile cancer or AIDS, it would seem that the most prudent course would be for parents to minimise their children’s exposure to the dangers of medical treatment by avoiding unnecessary surgery.
If American health outcomes are no better than those of non-circumcising countries, why does this “health precaution” survive on a mass scale? Robert Van Howe has suggested seven lines of inquiry. (1) The foreskin is the focus of myths, misconceptions and irrationality affecting medical profession and public alike. (2) Lack of respect for the rights and individuality of children. (3) A contrasting exaggerated delicacy with respect to the presumed sensibilities of religious minorities which practise circumcision for cultural reasons. (4) The reluctance of physicians to take a firm stand against circumcision and to refuse parental requests. (5) Bias in American medical journals, which tend to favour articles with a pro-circumcision tendency and are reluctant to publish critiques, much less developed arguments against. (6) Failure to subject circumcision to the normal protocols for surgery, such as the need for informed consent, evidence of pathology and proof of prophylactic benefit. (7) Strong financial incentives to perform the operation, usually guaranteed by medical insurance coverage. 
The last of these points has been stressed by a number of critics. In their analysis of Medicaid funding, Amber Craig and colleagues found that low and declining rates of circumcision correspond to regions where the procedure is not funded, most noticeably in California. Even more striking is their finding that the higher the rebate, the higher the incidence of circumcision: in states where it is $50 or less the incidence is 20 per cent; in those which pay $50 to $60 it is 27 per cent; and in those which pay more than $60 it is 38 per cent – vivid proof of the power of market signals.  Such observations might seem to justify the bitter observation of one critic that, in the eyes of many MDs, little boys are born with a redeemable tag of skin on the end of their penis; all they have to do to make a quick dollar is to cut it off and cash it in, like a huntsman turning in dingo scalps.
Nor do the advantages of circumcision end there. Despite optimistic claims that the rate of injury and death is low, there has never been an adequate assessment of long term complications, and they are certainly more frequent than most people think. (Does David Reimer’s recent suicide  count as a circumcision-related death?) The dirty little secret in pediatric surgery is that badly performed circumcisions, causing discomfort or poor cosmetic outcomes, often necessitating repeat operations and repair jobs, are common; one attorney who specialises in medical malpractice reports that some urologists see at least one such case each week. In this way the division of professional labour ensures that the benefits of circumcision are spread far beyond the original operator: his botches provide work for many colleagues, and the disasters add lawyers to the equation.
Yet the physicians may not be the major beneficiaries. In the age of biotechnology and tissue engineering, human body parts have a high market value, and baby foreskins are especially prized as the raw material for many biomedical products, from skin grafts to anti-wrinkle cream. The strongest pressure for the continuation of circumcision may not be from doctors at all, but from the hospitals which harvest the foreskins and sell them to commercial partners.  This would explain why so many mothers are still pressured to sign consent forms when they arrive for their delivery. 
As well as Van Howe’s suggestions as to why circumcision continues, we should consider the distinctive features of the American past which brought the practice into prominence. Among these the medicalisation of childbirth and the role of the armed forces are the most significant. Although experts in venereal disease such as Abraham Wolbarst had called for universal circumcision as early as 1914,  it was the obstetricians and gynecologists who were responsible for realising his dream. It may seem strange that the most influential advocates of routine male circumcision within the medical profession have been experts in women’s health, but from the 1930s onwards it has been the obstetricians and gynecologists who most vigorously touted the advantages of the procedure and performed most of the operations. Symptomatic of their power was the introduction of the Gomco clamp by the obstetrician Hiram Yellen,  who wanted a device that was so simple to use that his colleagues would be able to claim the circumcision procedure from fussy and expensive surgeons who still insisted on anaesthetics and strict control of bleeding. As maternity hospitals and clinics replaced home births, and as the ob-gyns displaced midwives, circumcision came to be seen as part of the birth process, often performed within a day or even a few hours of the boy’s arrival in the world – a procedure no more surgical or problematic than tying his umbilical cord. 
The armed forces also played a significant role. During the two world wars the US military made a concerted effort to circumcise servicemen, ostensibly because it was believed that this would make them less susceptible to venereal disease, though partly because true believers in circumcision held powerful positions within the Medical Corps. Military discipline forced men to submit to a procedure they would not otherwise have agreed to, and thousands of men were circumcised in their late teens and early 20s. When they returned home and became fathers, doctors began asking whether they wanted their sons circumcised. Remembering the ordeal that they or their buddies had endured from the operation as adults, many said yes, thinking it would avoid the need to do it later, when the pain was thought to be worse than in infancy. With two generations circumcised, the foreskinned penis became a rare sight, and few men now had the personal experience to refute the derogatory stories told about it.
Confusion in the American medical establishment
Lack of unanimity and conviction among the medical profession has been stressed by Lawrence Dritsas,  who attempts to deconstruct the AAP’s unwillingness to make a firm recommendation and corresponding tactic of throwing the burden of decision onto parents. Dritsas quotes from one article which explained that
we are reluctant to assume the role of active advocacy (one way or the other) because … the decision is not usually a medical one. Rather it is based on the parents perceptions of hygiene, their lack of understanding of the surgical risks, or their desire to conform to the pattern established by the infant’s father and their own societal structure. 
He translates this to mean that circumcision is irrational but that, contrary to the usual protocol, “parental wishes become sufficient, while medical necessity, normally a guiding rule for the surgeon’s knife, takes a back seat”. Dritsas contrasts this hands-off approach with the AAP’s ethically-based rejection of female genital mutilation (where the possibility of health benefit is not even entertained) , and even more tellingly with its position statement on informed consent:
Providers have legal and ethical duties to their child patients to render competent medical care based on what the patient needs, not what someone else expresses. … the pediatrician’s responsibility to his or her patient exists independently of parental desires or proxy consent. 
Except when it comes to circumcision.
Dritsas is genuinely puzzled by the glaring contradictions in AAP policy and explains them in terms of medical culture and the apprenticeship model of professional training, which do not encourage students to question authority. “For a physician to cease performing circumcisions represents a condemnation of past practice and an admission of error”, he writes, and nobody holding the power of life and death wants to be seen as doing that. The doctors are thus in much the same position as the parents themselves, whose unconsidered assumption that the baby will be circumcised is an expression of the authority of past generations of physicians who convinced their grandparents that it was the done thing. But if a previous cohort of doctors was responsible for establishing circumcision, is it not the responsibility of their successors to put a stop to it? Dritsas condemns the stance of the AAP as reminiscent of the response of Pontius Pilate when confronted with the problem of what to do with Jesus. In his view, what they are really saying is that “As scientific doctors we find ourselves unable to recommend or deny this procedure; therefore, you will decide, and we shall be your scalpels.” As he concludes, the AAP “decided not to make a decision and absolved itself of all guilt while continuing to perform a questionable operation”.  This sort of acquiescent hand-washing contrasts with the proactive stances of pediatric bodies in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and, most forcefully, Canada, which have seen it as their duty not only to discourage parents from seeking circumcision, but to educate them as to the value and correct care of the prepuce and, in the end, to refuse to perform the operation.
Demonization of the foreskin
There must be an explanation for these national differences. The medical profession is not an independent force; its members are subject to the same social pressures which mould the beliefs and condition the actions of everybody else. Several recent commentators have thus argued that circumcision should not be seen as medical issue at all, but as an expression of social norms. At a superficial level this has long been known. In the 1950s Dr Spock urged circumcision because it would help a boy to feel “regular”, and pediatricians since then have noted that “entrenched tradition of custom is probably the greatest obstacle faced by those who would decrease the number of circumcisions done in this country”.  But it is only recently that the sociological aspect of the question has received serious attention. In a comprehensive survey of the history of modern circumcision and the debate over its “advantages”, Geoffrey Miller shows in brilliant detail how late Victorian physicians succeeded in demonizing the foreskin as a source of moral and physical decay. Acting as “norm entrepreneurs” they “reconfigured the phallus”, transforming the foreskin from a feature that was regarded as healthy, natural and good into one which was feared as polluted, chaotic and bad. The incessant quest for novel associations between the foreskin (often expressed as “lack of circumcision”) and nasty diseases is a tribute to the lasting success of their enterprise.
As a legal scholar, Miller is surprised at the law’s indifferent and often supportive attitude to what one might expect it to regard as an assault, or at least a mutilation, but he points out that the law is itself an expression of the surrounding culture and cannot be expected to be too far ahead of prevailing norms. Even so, he considers routine circumcision in the mainstream community to be on the way out. Although still normative, it is in decline, and edging towards the critical half-way mark, or “tipping point”, where the incidence can be expected to fall precipitously as parents come to believe that their children will now suffer stigma if they are circumcised. Like foot-binding in China or wife beating in nineteenth century Britain, a widely accepted social convention is “likely to collapse as the culture reaches a ‘tipping point’ and turns against the practice”.  The increasingly desperate search for new “health” reasons to circumcise – urinary tract infections (1985), HIV-AIDS (1989) and cervical cancer in potential future partners (revived in 2002) – may delay the process, but cannot permanently halt it. 
Extending Miller’s argument, Sarah Waldeck  offers a subtle analysis of how norms contribute to a person’s behavioural cost-benefit calculations, how the desire to have a child circumcised fits into this assessment, and thus why parents continue to seek it. She is particularly interested in the “stigma” supposedly attached to the uncircumcised penis in a society where most of the males are cut, and considers the role of the popular media in perpetuating a stereotype of the foreskin as somehow disagreeable. (Indeed, if the malevolent jokes fired casually at normal male anatomy in popular American soaps and movies were directed at targets seen as entitled to protection from vilification there would be howls of outrage.)  She also notes that few parents have any clear reasons for wanting their sons circumcised and produce them only when challenged; the most common justifications then turn out to be the supposed need to look like the father or peers, and not to be teased in the proverbial locker room. If “health benefits” are mentioned at all, they enter as an afterthought or when other arguments fail. Waldeck still subjects the medical case to scientific, legal and ethical scrutiny, and finds it inadequate to justify the removal of healthy tissue from non-consenting minors. She also cites a study from 1991, which found that, even if the claims for its health benefits were true, circumcision was not a cost effective means of achieving these outcomes. 
Waldeck concludes with a thoughtful discussion of how the American norm might be changed and suggests three specific strategies: requiring parents to pay for the procedure; requiring doctors who perform the operation always to use effective pain control; and tightening the informed consent process. The first of these is partly achieved by dropping circumcision from the schedule of procedures covered by Medicaid, though Waldeck warns that private and company health insurance schemes must also be considered. The value of such a move arises not only because it is good public policy to encourage people to place a value on services by requiring them to pay, nor just in the cost disincentive, but in the fact that not being covered by a government program implies that circumcision is not an approved procedure. If not publicly funded, it is less likely to be seen as either beneficial or normative.
Doctors as cultural brokers
The USA thus presents the paradoxical picture of a cultural ritual justified in medical terms and a surgical procedure justified as a cultural necessity. Defenders of ritual circumcision point to the health benefits claimed by those who perform it for medical reasons; while those who perform it for medical reasons try to justify it as an ancient operation, performed by “many different cultures”, without which ethnic or religious identity would be lost. The whole thing ends up rather circular. When doubt is thrown on the medical benefits of circumcision, supporters of the operation stress its cultural importance; when its cultural necessity is questioned, they stress the alleged health benefits. Many medical personnel who regard circumcision as unnecessary or harmful still urge respect for cultural traditions, and show little hesitation in cutting boys from traditionally circumcising cultures (mostly Islamic, these days) at the request of their parents.
The claims of culture are taken very seriously in this age of globalization, but the problem with this particular claim is that it is applied inconsistently. First, there is discrimination based on gender. No matter how important circumcision of girls may be to the cultural/ethnic/religious groups that practise it, American opinion has determined that girls’ bodies are more important than tradition, and that any cutting of the female genitals is Female Genital Mutilation, now banned by law. Secondly, the cultural argument seems to be a one-way street. When faced by parents from circumcising cultures, doctors say they must respect their traditions and accede to their wishes, at least in relation to boys. But when it comes to non-circumcising cultures (the great majority) the argument is suddenly reversed: instead of enjoying automatic respect for their traditions, parents from non-circumcising cultures are pressured to conform to the American norm and to consent to have their sons circumcised, so that they will be “like other boys”. Here it is not the traditional culture or the condition of the father’s penis that matters, but American custom and medical ideology, to which the immigrants are expected to conform, and often coerced into doing so.
When discussing this issue, defenders of children’s rights have argued that doctors should not be cultural brokers, but this formulation does not quite grasp the complexity of the situation. What they are really suggesting is that it is not the role of doctors, nurses etc to enforce the rules of a given sub-culture against its members, particularly when the issue is one of conformity or outdated rituals. Concerns with identity are important in the traditional, monocultural societies where practices such as male and female circumcision originated; in such tribal situations, circumcision functions as an age card and passport. But such rituals are unnecessary, and certainly do not need to be nurtured, in the modern, multicultural societies to which these people have relocated, where identity and entitlements are registered in other ways. Immigrants from backward regions don’t expect to retain all their village customs (infanticide, widow burial, walking round naked, tribal medicine?) when seeking to improve their condition in the industrialised world; the main reason circumcision tends to be retained is that those with power (the parents and other adults) would not personally benefit from dropping the operation, while those who would enjoy the benefit are only helpless children, who lack the power to voice, much less enforce, their opinion. There is no harm in nurturing cheerful customs like dance, dress and food, but why privilege cruel or harmful ones?
In practice it is inevitable that doctors and other providers of professional services will act as cultural brokers when dealing with families from foreign cultures, and this is not necessarily a bad thing at all. It is actually quite appropriate that they should help people from backward collectivist cultures (in which the rights of children as individuals and citizens are not recognized) to negotiate the transition to a culture based on the autonomy of the individual and respect for personal rights. The problem is not that doctors act as cultural brokers, but that they do so in an inconsistent and discriminatory manner, respecting the traditions of the circumcisers but not the traditions of non-circumcising cultures – American Indian, Hispanic, Catholic and other Christian, European, South American and most Asian, to name a few. Circumcising cultures are a small minority: Islamic, some Africans and Jewish. You would think that the one of the first acts of cultural retrieval performed by American Indian peoples, none of which ever practised circumcision, might be to revive such historic traditions. If the “respect for culture” policy was applied consistently, the vast majority of American immigrants and ethnic subcultures would not be circumcised, and half-drugged mothers would not be obliged to fight off the advances of scalpel-happy ob-gyns in maternity wards.
The lessons of history
In 1979 the British Medical Journal applauded the decline of routine circumcision in Britain from about 35 per cent in the 1930s to under 6 per cent in the 1970s,  and contrasted the British case with the situation in the United States, where the majority of boys were still circumcised, and doctors still defended the procedure with vehemence. It offered no suggestions as to why the experience of the two leading anglophone powers should have diverged so sharply after the 1940s, but a clue may be found in the relatively low incidence of circumcision in Britain and its brief lifespan: even at the height of its popularity it was still a minority practice, and it lasted scarcely more than two generations. Where the practice affects the majority and endures for more than two generations, however, there will soon be few doctors and parents who have any familiarity with the normal penis, and thus know how to manage it; and most circumcised fathers will want their sons to be treated likewise. In Britain there were always doctors and relatives who had not lost touch with the way things used to be.
In my research on the British and Australian experience, I found that routine circumcision began slowly as a doctor-driven innovation; became established in the medical repertoire and spread rapidly; and then declined slowly as doctors ceased to recommend it but parents, having absorbed the advice of the generation before and many fathers being circumcised, continued to ask for it. The fundamental reason for circumcision of children is a population of circumcised adults. A significant factor in the decline of circumcision in Australia during the 1960s – before the paediatricians took a stand – was the arrival of large numbers of immigrants from non-circumcising European countries (particularly Greece and Italy), most of whom settled in the cities. In contrast with the situation reported by Laumann, a recent study in Western Australia found a far higher incidence of circumcision in country areas, with their greater proportion of older, less well educated Anglo-Celtic stock, than in major urban centres, with their more multicultural and better educated populations. 
As a celebrated German-Jewish philosopher once observed, “the tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living”. When preventive circumcision was introduced in the late nineteenth century, concepts of medical ethics, informed consent, therapeutic evidence and the cost-benefit trade-off were rudimentary. Neither the morality nor the efficacy of the procedure was seriously debated, nor was there any study of its long-term consequences, and it became established in the medical culture of Anglophone countries by virtue of the authority of its early promoters. No matter how many statistics-laden articles get published in medical journals, circumcision cannot shake off the traces of its Victorian origins. It remains the last surviving example of a once respectable proposition that disease could be prevented by the pre-emptive removal of normal body parts which, though healthy, were thought to be a weak link in the body’s defences. In its heyday this medical breakthrough, described by Ann Dally as “fantasy surgery”, enjoyed wide esteem and included excisions of other supposed foci or portals of infection, such as the adenoids, tonsils, teeth, appendix and large intestine.  Few doubted that if the doctor thought you, or your children, were better off without any of these it was your duty to follow his orders.
The burden of proof
Because there was no real debate about the propriety or efficacy of pre-emptive amputation as a disease control strategy when it was introduced, those who wanted to remove healthy body parts from children were able to throw the burden of proof onto their opponents. Instead of the advocates having to demonstrate that the gain outweighed the loss, it was up to the doubters to prove that the loss outweighed the gain – or as Abraham Wolbarst put in it his call for universal infant circumcision in 1914: “If there is any objection to circumcision it should be based on valid, scientific grounds.”  The consequence is that what should have been a debate about the introduction of preventive circumcision in the 1890s has turned into a debate about its abolition a century later. Miller and Waldeck may be right to argue that circumcision will not die out until the uncut penis becomes an acceptable – and perhaps the preferred – option. But the transformation of attitude will not seem so improbable, nor the task of effecting it so daunting, if it is remembered that there is no need to invent a new norm, merely to restore the sensibility that governed the Western world before the late nineteenth century.  In her popular midwifery manual of the 1670s, Jane Sharp wrote that a few people believed that the “Venerious action” might be performed better without the foreskin, but pointed out that circumcision had been forbidden by St Paul and hoped that
no man will be so void of reason and Religion, as to be Circumcised to make trial which of these two opinions is the best; but the world was never without some mad men, who will do anything to be singular: were the foreskin any hindrance to procreation or pleasure, Nature had never made it, who made all things for these very ends and purposes. 
When, in the 1870s, Richard Burton remarked that Christendom “practically holds circumcision in horror”,  the observation was ceasing to be true, but it was certainly the case before Victorian doctors reconfigured the phallus, and bequeathed a thorny problem to their successors.
Table 1: Male infant mortality and male life expectancy at birth, 2004
* Countries where male circumcision is prevalent
Source: US Census Bureau, 2004
Table 2: HIV prevalence, 2000
HIV prevalence: Male and female, cases per 100,000
Table 3: Circumcision compared with male life expectancy, HIV prevalence and incidence of cervical cancer, 2001
males circumcised (%)
Male life expectancy
of HIV in
Cervical cancer incidence
(cases per 100,000)
UNAIDS, Epidemic update report, 2002, Table E
Australia, Canada and Britain were selected because of their cultural similarities with the USA and because they have an intermediate level of circumcision prevalence. The Scandinavian countries and Japan were selected because they have very low rate of circumcision.
There is nothing in the table to suggest that circumcision confers any health advantage at all, let alone a significant one, to males in the USA compared with males in the other countries. There is a strong correlation between circumcision prevalence and HIV prevalence, and a negative correlation between circumcision and life expectancy. The association between male circumcision and cervical cancer is also very weak.
1. Marianne Legato, Rethinking circumcision: medical intervention, religious ceremony or genital mutilation?, Journal of Gender Specific Medicine, Vol. 5, July-Aug. 2002, pp. 8-10
2. Robert Van Howe, Why does neonatal circumcision persist in the United States?, in Marylin Milos and George Denniston (eds), Sexual mutilations: A human tragedy (London and New York: Plenum Publishers, 1997), p. 112.
3. By routine circumcision I mean circumcision of healthy male minors, showing no signs of abnormality or disease, on the decision of adults and without the consent of the child. Since the operation excises a normal mammalian anatomical feature in the belief that its loss will provide protection against fairly rare diseases, the risk of which lies mostly in the distant future, a more accurate term would be preventive or pre-emptive posthectomy (posthe being the Greek for foreskin).
4. Edward Wallerstein, Circumcision: The uniquely American medical enigma, Urologic Clinics of North America, Vol 12, Feb. 1985, 123-32. Statements from medical organizations are conveniently collected at http://www.cirp.org/library/statements/
5. The frequency of circumcision did fall more sharply after the 1989 statement, then rose again in the mid-1990s, before levelling off; data released in early 2005 suggests that the more critical policy issued in 1999 has made a noticeable impact. See footnote 11.
6. M.S. and C.A. Brown, “Circumcision decision: Prominence of social concerns”, Pediatrics, Vol. 80, 1987, pp. 215-19
7. Wallerstein, p. 129, citing M.J. Maisels et al, “Circumcision: The effect of information on parental decision-making”, Pediatrics, Vol. 71, 1983, p. 453
8. See Robert Darby, A surgical temptation: The demonization of the foreskin and the rise of circumcision in Britain (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2005), conclusion
9. Editorial, The case against neonatal circumcision, British Medical Journal, 5 May 1979, 1163-4
10. Dan Bollinger, Normal versus circumcised: US neonatal male genital ratio
11. National Center for Health Statistics More recent statistics based on data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey show that the incidence of neonatal circumcision declined from 61.5 per cent in 1999 to 55.9 per cent in 2003, the largest falls being recorded in the south and west, and hardly any in the north-east. If this trend continues, circumcised boys will indeed soon be in the minority. See http://www.cirp.org/library/statistics/USA/
12. Edward Laumann et al, Circumcision in the United States: Prevalence, prophylactic effects and sexual practice, Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 277, 1997, 1052-7, Table 1
13. Shannon Brownlee, “The overtreated American”, Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Feb 2003; see also Ted Halstead, “The American paradox” in the same issue
14. Linda Kohn et al (eds), To err is human: Building a safer health systemAvailable online here.
15. Robert Van Howe, “Why does neonatal circumcision persist in the United States?”
16. Amber Craig et al, Tax dollar funding of medically unnecessary circumcision through Medicaid (2001): pdf available at http://www.icgi.org
17. After they burned off his entire penis during a routine circumcision procedure, doctors decided that it would be better if David was turned into a girl. The experiment did not work. See http://www.circumstitions.com/News13.html
18. Lori Andrews and Dorothy Nelkin, Body bazaar: The market for human tissue in the biotechnology age (New York: Crown, 2001); Norm UK, Where do all the foreskins go?
19. In 2004 Allena Tapia was asked four times to allow doctors at a hospital in Michigan to circumcise her newborn son, and on two of these occasions she was so drowsy from drugs that it is doubtful if she was capable of giving informed consent. Informant (Newsletter of Nocirc Michigan), December 2004. In 2003 there was a case in which Spanish mothers who could barely understand English were bamboozled into signing consent forms – now the subject of litigation.
20. Abraham Wolbarst, "Universal circumcision as a sanitary measure", Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 62, 1914, p. 92-7
21. Hiram S. Yellen, “Bloodless circumcision of the newborn”, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 30, July 1935, pp. 146-7; Julian Wan, “Gomco circumcision clamp: An enduring and unexpected success”, Urology, Vol. 59, 2002, pp. 790-94. Further details on the Gomco clamp
22. Richard Miller and Donald Snyder, "Immediate circumcision of the newborn male", American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 65, 1953, p. 1-11
23. Lawrence Dritsas, Below the belt: Doctors, debate and the ongoing American discussion of routine neonatal male circumcision, Bulletin of Science and Technology, Vol. 21, 2001, 297-311
24. Dritsas, p. 363, citing Maisels et al, 1983
25. Available from the American Academy of Pediatrics
26. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Bioethics, Informed consent, parental permission, and assent in pediatric practice, Pediatrics, Vol. 95, 1995, pp. 314-17.
27. Dritsas, p. 310
28. Thomas Metcalf et al, “Circumcision: A study of current practices", Clinical Pediatrics, Vol. 22, 1983, p. 578
29. Geoffrey Miller, Circumcision: Cultural-legal analysis, Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 9, 2002, pp. 497-585
30. The reasons are desperate because the remoteness of the theoretical benefits do not justify the real damage, the absence of consent or the urgency. In the case of cervical cancer it has been repeatedly shown that a male partner’s circumcision status is not a significant factor in whether a woman develops cervical cancer, and, even if it was, Sarah Waldeck (see Ref. 31) has pointed out that Western medical ethics do not permit a person to be mutilated without consent in order to benefit a third party, and all the moreso if the identity, or even the existence, of the supposed beneficiary is unknown. On top of this, an effective vaccine will soon be available. See http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/cancer/; Waldeck, pp. 486-491; http://www.circinfo.org/cervical.html. Urinary tract infections seem to be problem only in countries with a history of widespread circumcision, and where incorrect foreskin care (such as premature retraction) is thus common. In any case, UTIs are usually minor infections which clear up quickly with antibiotics; persistent infections may indicate a malformation of the urinary tract or bladder, which will indeed require surgery, but not on the foreskin. For further information, see http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/UTI/ and http://www.circumstitions.com/Utis.html. As to HIV, the debate about how to control AIDS in the Third World, where the disease is an epidemic mainly affecting heterosexuals, both male and female, has no relevance to conditions in developed countries, where it is a less serious problem mainly affecting small subcultures, such as promiscuous male homosexuals and intravenous drug users. It has no relevance at all to infants and children, who are not at risk of sexually-transmitted HIV because they do not have sex with carriers of the virus. See http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/HIV/http://www.circinfo.org/hiv.html.
31. Sarah Waldeck, Using circumcision to understand social norms as multipliers, University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 72, 2003, 455-526
32. See the astounding analysis of movies and of TV shows at circumstitions.com
33. Waldeck, p. 500, citing Theodore Ganiats et al, “Routine neonatal circumcision: A cost-utility analysis”, Medical Decision Making, Vol. 11, 1991, pp. 282-93. (Abstract available here) This conclusion has recently been confirmed in an exhaustive study by Robert Van Howe, A cost-utility analysis of neonatal circumcision, Medical Decision Making, Vol. 24, 2004, pp. 584-601
34. The case against neonatal circumcision
35. Katrina Spilsbury et al, Routine circumcision practice in Western Australia 1981-1999, ANZ Journal of Surgery, Vol. 73, 2003, pp. 610-14
36. Ann Dally, Fantasy surgery, 1880-1930: With special reference to Sir William Arbuthnot Lane (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996)
37. Abraham Wolbarst, “Universal circumcision”
38. Frederick Hodges, The ideal prepuce in Ancient Greece and Rome, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 75, 2001, 375-405
39. Jane Sharp, The midwives book: Or the whole art of midwifery discovered (London 1671; facsimile reprint, New York: Garland, 1985), pp. 31-2
40. Richard Burton, Love, war and fancy: The customs and manners of the East from writings on the Arabian Nights, ed. Kenneth Walker (London: William Kimber, 1964), p. 106
http://www.historyofcircumcision.net...ask=view&id=77 (last accessed 12 February 2007).
|(2003): (Washington: National Academies Press, 2000), p. 1. and The following article by two public health authorities at the University of Capetown, South Africa, throws doubt on recent extavagant claims that universal circumcision is the best and only answer to the southern African AIDS epidemic. Coming from a society which (unlike the developed world) really does have a serious HIV problem in the general population, the paper is of particular significance. |
Male circumcision: The new hope?
A. Myers, J. Myers
South Africa Medical Journal, May 2007
Before we rush to administer the ‘silver bullet’ of circumcision in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is important to take a long cool look at the practice, and at the historical and contemporary rationales for its use.
In his book, Circumcision: A History of the World’s Most Controversial Surgery,  medical historian David Gollaher makes the intriguing suggestion that ‘as the history of female circumcision suggests, if male circumcision were confined to developing nations, it would by now have emerged as an international cause célèbre, stirring passionate opposition from feminists, physicians, politicians, and the global human rights community’.
There are clearly ethical issues involved in practising genital surgery on non-consenting infants and children in a modern human rights context; however, because male circumcision has long been familiar in the West, it continues to be justified and escape scrutiny.
Rationalisations for circumcision
Over the centuries there have been various justifications for male circumcision. The practice has served in part to identify those outside the religious/cultural group. The unsubstantiated rationale is that the circumcised penis is ‘cleaner’ than the uncircumcised one. This argument is often encountered among Jews, Muslims and Americans, all of whom circumcise the majority of males in infancy or childhood, but the notion is absent for example in Scandinavian countries where circumcision is rare.
More serious and superficially more convincing justifications for this surgery, such as ‘health benefits’ or ‘medical’ reasons have abounded since the mid-19th century. The first medical justification was that circumcision prevents masturbation,  which Victorians believed led to a range of maladies including insanity, idiocy, epilepsy, tuberculosis and paralysis.  This claim proved false. At the turn of the 20th century it was claimed that circumcision prevents sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), with studies  finding differences in the rates of syphilis and other STDs among Jews and non-Jews. These early studies did not adjust for confounding factors, and later well-conducted studies failed to find a protective effect.  In the 1930s circumcision was said to prevent penile cancer.  However, because penile cancer is so rare (every year there is 1 case per 100 000 men in the USA and 0.3/100 000 in Japan ), the American Cancer Society estimates that the number of fatalities from circumcision would exceed the number of fatalities from penile cancer.  In the 1950s an association was observed between circumcision and low rates of cervical cancer in women; however, this finding was not substantiated in further studies.  In the 1980s the new scare was urinary tract infection in the first year of life.  It was argued that the likelihood of this would be decreased if the infant was circumcised. However, even accepting this to be true, the absolute risk reduction is very small (under 1%).  Interestingly, girls are far more susceptible to urinary tract infections than both circumcised and intact boys. In girls (and in the small number of excess cases in intact males), antibiotic treatment is effective. It is also worth noting that none of the abovementioned conditions are eliminated by circumcision. The most that can possibly be said is that it offers some degree (often slight) of risk reduction in the circumcised.
Medical circumcision policy and practice and practice in Anglophone countries
As medical justifications for routine infant circumcision have been steadily overturned, medical organisations in Anglophone countries (the only countries with a history of medicalised non-therapeutic or preventive circumcision) formulated policies that withheld endorsement of routine circumcision of infants, and accordingly the rates dropped considerably in all but the USA. The UK stopped coverage of circumcision via the National Health Service in 1949 because of lack of evidence of benefit,  and the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) stopped endorsement of routine circumcision in 1971, citing no valid indications.  An AAP statement in 1989 elaborated on risks and benefits,  and in its most recent policy statement in 1999 the AAP reaffirmed that routine circumcision was not recommended. 
Until recently infant male circumcision has been on the decline, as parents in developed countries began increasingly to perceive that genital surgery on non-consenting subjects was not only unnecessary, but also inhumane and out of step with an evolved human rights culture. Circumcision appeared to be going the way of other outdated practices such as corporal and capital punishment and less humane slaughtering and animal sacrifice practices. In the USA, UK and Israel, small but increasing numbers of Jews oppose the practice as antiquated, and refuse to have it done to their infants, despite its religious and cultural significance. [16-19]
The evidence for HIV prevention
Before the implementation of properly designed randomised control trials (RCTs), the authoritative Cochrane Review of recent studies on the subject found ‘insufficient evidence to support an interventional effect of male circumcision on HIV acquisition in heterosexual men’.  Results of observational studies were conflicting and no strong association was observed. However, results of recent RCTs [21-23] examining the effect of adult male circumcision on the risk of HIV infection have once again led to renewed medical justifications and calls for circumcision. [24-27] There have been calls for mass circumcision campaigns, even though these might be impractical in many circumstances. Although some commentators have been careful to emphasise that circumcision has only been shown to reduce the risk, many lay people are beginning to believe that circumcision can prevent (in the sense of eliminate) the risk. Recent RCTs have shown that over a maximum period of 24 months of observation post circumcision, a man’s risk of contracting HIV is reduced by between 60% (see South African study ) and 53% and 51% (see Kenyan  and Ugandan  studies) respectively. Garenne  has pointed out that a 60% reduction in the risk of infection is similar to the effectiveness of the rhythm method of contraception, which reduces fecundity by around 50% without protecting women against pregnancy.
A circumcised man cannot hope for full immunity to HIV; the best he can hope for is perhaps a longer period of time and/ or a greater number of sexual encounters before he becomes infected as a consequence of his reduced risk. The problem is that if people are led to believe that circumcision is actually ‘protective’ in the sense of conferring full immunity, this could be seriously counterproductive, resulting in behavioural disinhibition in circumcised men and their abandonment of other preventive methods.
At the population level there is no notable correlation between circumcision and HIV status. In Europe, where few men are circumcised, HIV prevalence is the lowest in the world. In the USA, where most men are circumcised, HIV prevalence is highest in the developed world. In Ethiopia, despite the universal practice of circumcision, the number of HIV cases increased from 0% in 1984 to 7.4% in 1997.  In the Eastern Cape, where most men are circumcised, the prevalence rate is not meaningfully lower than in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where most men are not circumcised. The pandemic in the former province appears merely to be lagging behind that in KZN.  While these findings are not incompatible with evidence from trials showing that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission, they demonstrate that there are far more important factors affecting HIV spread than the absence of circumcision. Actuarial modelling showing the impact that mass circumcision might have in South Africa provides an estimate of a modest 9% reduction in the incidence of HIV cases over the next 10 years  (an average risk reduction of less than 1% a year).
Unbalanced circumcision advocacy
The current zeal and naïve enthusiasm for promoting circumcision as an AIDS prevention tool show lack of regard for the limited degree of benefit likely. Potential harms include disinhibition and surgical complications like infection and worse at the individual level, and increased costs and strain on thinly stretched health services and the opportunity cost of deemphasising other crucial health services at the societal level.
Recent research has shown that HIV infection is about three times more likely as a result of the circumcision procedure itself in three African settings (Kenya, Lesotho and Tanzania).  One should also not lose sight of the ethical issues of circumcising non-consenting infants.
Cultural double standards
It is also useful to ask ourselves how consistent attitudes are in relation to preventive surgery. Hypothetically, imagine that female circumcision had also been shown to have a similar ‘protective’ effect. Would we be any more likely to promote it? Would women be lining up for it, and would young parents, eager to do the best for their children, request it for their daughters? If female circumcision was medicalised in a similar way to male circumcision, it could be made safer and less damaging. Nevertheless, that sort of argument does not convince.
Although it is not deemed ethically possible to study female circumcision by means of a RCT, a large Tanzanian study, which controlled for confounding variables, found that this practice reduced HIV transmission.  Biologically the explanation for this is probably the same as for male circumcision.
The downplaying of these facts in the media is a powerful reflection of Western cultural attitudes. We have already decided that female circumcision is an appalling human rights violation and so do not even flirt with the idea of using it as an HIV prevention tool. Similar arguments apply to mastectomy in teenage girls, even though this would be effective to prevent breast cancer in later life. The difference with male circumcision is that it is still tolerated in Western and other parts of the world, rendering it politically acceptable. This has tended to lower ethical barriers to recommending male circumcision as an HIV/AIDS preventive measure.
Caution and more research are needed
More research is needed into integrated HIV/AIDS management that examines the long-term preventive effects of circumcision. Research should focus on the duration of sexual activity in men (as with the rhythm method of contraception over the reproductive years of women), the impact on female risk of acquiring HIV, and on the issue of disinhibition in circumcised men. The impact on women is a key issue, and recent research in Uganda shows that female partners of circumcised men appear twice as likely to contract HIV;  while South African research shows that of the principal group at risk for HIV infection – 15 - 24-year-olds – a massive 90% of those newly infected were women.  In summary, the evidence for preventive benefit of male circumcision is rather modest and does not warrant heroic policies or practices.
1. Gollaher D. Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery. New York: Basic Books, 2000: Preface, p. xi.
2. Darby R. History of Circumcision. http://www.historyofcircumcision.net/index. php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=54 (last accessed 12 February 2007).
3. Gollaher D. Circumcision: A History of the World’s Most Controversial Surgery. New York: Basic Books, 2000: 101-102.
4. Darby R. History of Circumcision. http://www.historyofcircumcision.net/index.php?option =content&task=view&id=25 (last accessed 12 February 2007).
5. Laumann EO, Masi CM, Zuckerman EW. Circumcision in the United States: Prevalence, prophylactic effects, and sexual practice. JAMA 1997; 277: 1052-1057.
6. Wolbarst AL. Circumcision and penile cancer. Lancet 1932; 1: 150-153.
7. Laumann EO. The Circumcision Dilemma. Encarta Encyclopaedia Reference Library 2003 (on CDRom).
8. Gollaher D. Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery. New York: Basic Books, 2000: 145 (correspondence H Shingleton and CW Health Jnr (American Cancer Sociey) to Peter Rappo, American Academy of Paediatrics, 16 February 1996).
9. Van Howe RS. Human papillomavirus and circumcision: A meta-analysis. J Infect 2006; 25 Sep [Epub ahead of print].
10. Ginsberg GM, McCracken GH. Urinary tract infections in young children. Pediatrics 1982; 69: 409-412
11. American Academy of Pediatrics: Circumcision Policy Statement. Pediatrics 1999; 103: 686- 693.
12. Gairdner D. The fate of the foreskin. BMJ 1949; 2:1433-1437.
13. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Fetus and Newborn. Standards and Recommendation for Hospital Care of Newborn Infants. 5th ed. Evanston, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 1971: 110.
14. Report of the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision. Pediatrics 1989; 84(4): 388-391.
15. American Academy of Pediatrics: Circumcision Policy Statement. Pediatrics 1999; 103: 686- 693.
16. The Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation. http://www.britmila.org.il/ (last accessed 12 February 2007).
17. Brit Shalom Celebrants. http://www.circumstitions.com/Jewish-shalom.html (last accessed 12 February 2007).
18. Jewish Circumcision Resource Center. http://www.jewishcircumcision.org/ (last accessed 12 February 2007).
19. Jews Against Circumcision. http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/
20. Siegfried N, Muller M, Volmink J, et al. Male circumcision for prevention of heterosexual acquisition of HIV in men. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD003362. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003362.
21. Auvert B, Taljaard D, Lagarde E, et al. Randomized, Controlled Intervention Trial of Male Circumcision for Reduction of HIV Infection Risk: The ANRS 1265 Trial. Public Library of Science Medicine 2005; 2: e298.
22. Bailey RC, Moses S, Parker CB, et al. Male circumcision for HIV prevention in young men in Kisumu, Kenya: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2007; 369: 643-656.
23. Gray RH, Kigozi G, Serwadda D, et al. Male circumcision for HIV prevention in men in Rakai, Uganda: a randomised trial. Lancet 2007; 369: 657-666.
24. Beresford B. It's the end of the foreskin as we know it. http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage. aspx?articleid=293523&area=/insight/insight__national/ (last accessed 12 February 2007).
25. Coates TJ. Seven Aids goals for 2010. http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=29182 2&area=/insight/insight__comment_and_analysis/ (last accessed 12 February 2007).
26. Zaheer K. UN urges circumcision in AIDS-hit Southern Africa. http://www.mg.co.za/ articlePage.aspx?articleid=293970&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__africa/ (last accessed 12 February 2007).
27. Blandy F. Circumcision fever begins to sweep Swaziland. http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage. aspx?articleid=297770&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__africa/ (last accessed 12 February 2007).
28. Garenne M. Male circumcision and HIV control in Africa. Public Library of Science Medicine 2006; 3: Issue 1, Jan.
29. Berhan T. Presentation on HIV and AIDS in Ethiopia. http://www.aids.harvard.edu/conferen...pia/tebebe.pdf (last accessed 12 February 2007).
30. Johnson LF, Dorrington RE. Assessment of HIV vaccine requirements and effects of HIV vaccination in South Africa, 2006. http://www.commerce.uct.ac.za/Research%5FUnits/care/ (last accessed 12 February 2007).
31. Brewer D, Potterat J, Roberts J, Brody S. Male and female circumcision associated with prevalent HIV infection in virgins and adolescents in Kenya, Lesotho and Tanzania. Ann Epidemiol 2007; 17: 217-226.
32. Stallings RY, Karugendo E. Female circumcision and HIV infection in Tanzania: for better or for worse. 3rd International AIDS Society Conference, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 24-27 July 2005.
33. Nake, J. Uganda: Male circumcision hits snag with new research. http://allafrica.com/stories/200703140331.html (last accessed 4 April 2007)
34. Rehle T, Shisana O, Pillay V, Zuma K, Puren A, Parker W. National HIV incidence measures: new insights into the South African epidemic. S Afr Med J 2007; 97: 194-199.
A. Myers is a humanities student at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and has researched the history and practice of circumcision.
J. Myers is Professor of Public Health at UCT, and is interested in the reduction of the provincial burden of disease.
South Africa Medical Journal, Vol. 97, No. 5, May 2007
This is a nice side:
Some article comparing MGM and FGM and other interesting stuff:
|According to the World Health Organization the following forms of FGM are used: Description of the different types of female genital mutilation |
Female genital mutilation is usually performed by traditional practitioners, generally elderly women in the community specially designated for this task, or traditional birth attendants. In some countries, health professionals trained midwives and physicians are increasingly performing female genital mutilation. In Egypt, for example, preliminary results from the 1995 Demographic and Health Survey indicate that the proportion of women who reported having been circumcised by a doctor was 13%. In contrast, among their most recently circumcised daughters, 46% had been circumcised by a doctor.
The procedures employed in each type of female genital mutilation are described below.
In the commonest form of this procedure the clitoris is held between the thumb and index finger, pulled out and amputated with one stroke of a sharp object. Bleeding is usually stopped by packing the wound with gauzes or other substances and applying a pressure bandage. Modern trained practitioners may insert one or two stitches around the clitoral artery to stop the bleeding.
The degree of severity of cutting varies considerably in this type. Commonly the clitoris is amputated as described above and the labia minora are partially or totally removed, often with the same stroke. Bleeding is stopped with packing and bandages or by a few circular stitches which may or may not cover the urethra and part of the vaginal opening. There are reported cases of extensive excisions which heal with fusion of the raw surfaces, resulting in pseudo-infibulation even though there has been no stitching. Types I and II generally account for 80-85% of all female genital mutilation, although the proportion may vary greatly from country to country.
The amount of tissue removed is extensive. The most extreme form involves the complete removal of the clitoris and labia minora, together with the inner surface of the labia majora. The raw edges of the labia majora are brought together to fuse, using thorns, poultices or stitching to hold them in place, and the legs are tied together for 2-6 weeks. The healed scar creates a hood of skin which covers the urethra and part or most of the vagina, and which acts as a physical barrier to intercourse. A small opening is left at the back to allow for the flow of urine and menstrual blood. The opening is surrounded by skin and scar tissue and is usually 2-3 cm in diameter but may be as small as the head of a matchstick.
If after infibulation the posterior opening is large enough, sexual intercourse can take place after gradual dilatation, which may take weeks, months or, in some recorded cases, as long as two years. If the opening is too small to start the dilatation, recutting (defibulation) before intercourse is traditionally undertaken by the husband or one of his female relatives using a sharp knife or a piece of glass. Modern couples may seek the assistance of a trained health professional, although this is done in secrecy, possibly because it might undermine the social image of the man's virility.
In almost all cases of infibulation and in many cases of severe excision, defibulation must also be performed during childbirth to allow exit of the fetal head without tearing the surrounding scar tissue. If no experienced birth attendant is available to perform defibulation, fetal and/or maternal complications may occur because of obstructed labour or perineal tears. Traditionally, "re-infibulation" is performed after the woman gives birth. The raw edges are stitched together again to create a small posterior opening, often the same size as that which existed before marriage. This is done to create the illusion of virginity, since a tight vaginal opening is culturally perceived as more pleasurable to the man. Because of the extent of both the initial and repeated cutting and suturing, the physical, sexual and psychological effects of infibulation are greater and longer-lasting than for other types of female genital mutilation.
Although only an estimated 15-20% of all women who experience genital mutilation undergo type III, in certain countries such as Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan the proportion is 80-90%. Infibulation is practised on a smaller scale in parts of Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya and Mali, and may occur in other communities where information is lacking or still incomplete.
Type IV female genital mutilation encompasses a variety of procedures, most of which are self-explanatory. Two procedures are described here.
The term "angurya cuts" describes the scraping of the tissue around the vaginal opening. "Gishiri cuts" are posterior (or backward) cuts from the vagina into the perineum as an attempt to increase the vaginal outlet to relieve obstructed labour. They often result in vesicovaginal fistulae and damage to the anal sphincter.
There is no mention of removing only the clitoral hood as described by Dr. Nowa Omoigui.
While the clitoris is the analogue of the glans penis, it should not be assumed that it is innervated in the same way. The evidence is that the glans clitoris is far more sensitive than the glans penis, and that the nearest analogue to the clitoris in sensitivity is the male foreskin.
Incidence of different types of FGM
Among the Bedouins of Israel none of the 37 women examined was mutilated. They all had only small scars on the prepuce of the clitoris and/or the upper 1 cm of the labia minora near the clitoral prepuce.
Asali A, Khamaysi N, Aburabia Y, Letzer S, Halihal B, Sadovsky M, et al.
Ritual female genital surgery among Bedouin in Israel.
Arch Sex Behav 1995;24:571-5.
Upon physical examination of the other group, Ethiopian Jews, which resides now in Israel and performed female genital mutilation in Ethiopia, 63% of the women, who all claimed to have been circumcised, did not even have a scar! 20% had scars, in 7%, one square centimeter of the labia minora was removed from beneath the clitoris and only 10% demonstrated a real and severe form of female genital mutilation, total amputation of the clitoris.
Grisaru N, Letzer S, Belmaker RH.
Ritual Female Genital Surgery Among Ethiopian Jews.
Arch Sex Behav 1997;26:211-5.
This does not speak about the severity of FGM in any other community, and it does not in any way mitigate the human rights abuse of FGM.
|Circumcision in the Yemen It is commonly claimed that Female Genital Mutilation is much more barbaric than male. In fact, both practices can be more or less barbaric, the worst of male circumcising being worse than the mildest of female genital cutting. The variety that follows is at least as bad as most FGM practised today. |
Indian Medical Gazette (Calcutta), vol.56, no2 (February 1921): pp. 48-49
A BARBARIC METHOD OF CIRCUMCISION AMONGST SOME OF THE ARAB TRIBES OF YEMEN.
By Dr. Y.V. CHABUKSWAR, Senior Grade Second Class Sub-Assist. Surgeon, in sub-charge, Civil Hospital, Aden.
It is enjoined in the Koran by the Prophet that an infant should be circumcised on the seventh day after its birth [this is erroneous: the Qu'ran does not mention circumcision], but this is not observed in many places, even in Arabia. The common practice amongst all Mahomedans and Jews, as is well known, is to remove the redundant portion of the prepuce only. There is a district in Yemen called Al Hoora, about 15 days journey from Aden. In this province of Al Hoora there are six villages, viz., Hijaji, Mugrasi, Udebli, Ukabi, Wahagari and Mugawiya, governed by an Arab ruler, by name Ali Murgayeh. The circumcision is performed, not in infancy or childhood, as is usually done, but amongst the grown-ups, who are about to marry. Unless the man is circumcised in this particular manner, he cannot obtain a bride. The circumcision is done with religious ceremonies as follows:--
The man who is to undergo the circumcision sends invitation to all his relativesand friends in his town and in the surrounding villages named above; a day is fixed and the would-be bridegroom is taken up to a high building, open to view on all sides and specially erected for this purpose. He is well dressed like a bride-groom, the guests, males and females, together with other spectators watching him from below; the victim is made to stand with his right arm lifted up, holding a dagger and looking straight forward with steady eyes. One Arab is appointed to watch the movements of his face and eyelids, and the operator, called Rayis (barber) or Khadim, commences the operation of circumcision at about one inch below the umbilicus, dissecting the skin downwards, peeling off the entire skin of the penis, leaving that of the scrotum intact, without any local or general anaesthetic. If, during this operation, the man undergoing the circumcision even winks a little, or shows any sign of pain of the operation, it is at once abandoned, and one of the following punishments is given to the victim:-- (a) Killed on the spot; (b) deported from the district in disgrace; or (c) sold as a slave to outsiders. Of course, the bride, for the sake of whom he was undergoing circumcision, is totally lost to him. Very often the would-be bride is also one of the spectators. If the operation is successfully finished, and the man goes through the ordeal with courage and without showing signs of pain or cowardice, the occasion is celebrated with great rejoicings and feasting, with beating of drums and firing of arms. The man is congratulated by all who are gathered, and the Rayis finishes off his work by imparting a kiss on his forehead. The man is taken to his house and receives presents of ghee, cloth, goats, etc. The wound takes about two to eight months to heal, or even longer, and suppuration always takes place. The dressings used by the patient are simple: a daily wash in the morning and applying to the wound leaves of a shrub, called by the Arabs "Sulla", smeared with a little oil. The operator`s fee in the case is only one Riyal – a silver coin worth Rs. 2-4 , and the Hakim`s, i.e., the Rulers` fee is also the same as that of the Rayis. The very commonly expected bad results of the circumcision are hernia and urethral fistula – the latter is one in every ten such operations. The deaths from sepsis are also very common.
As will be seen from the accompanying photos, the whole of the skin from a point just below the umbilicus to the root of the penis, with all the hair-bearing area, and all the skin of the penis, as far as the scrotum, is removed. In some cases, as in photo No.2, a portion of the penile urethra is also removed, of course unintentionally. Several such cases of loss of a portion of the urethra, in one case fully one inch, have been treated at this hospital.
Case No.1, photo No.1, -- An Arab, aged 25, resident of Mugawiya, the slave of case No.2, was circumcised 12 years ago. The wound took about seven months to heal, resulting in left inguinal hernia, with extensive scarring. This man was operated on by Major M.S.Irani, I.M.S., the Acting Civil Surgeon, Aden, on 8th November, 1920, and was discharged cured on 25th November, 1920.
Case No.2, photo No.2, -- An Arab, aged 40, resident of Mugawiya, was circumcised 12 years ago. The wound took about two months to heal, resulting in urethral fistula two months after the operation, the fistula being situated at the root of the penis. This man was operated on 17th November, 1920, by Major M.S.Irani, I.M.S., The Acting Civil Surgeon, Aden, who secured a flap from the skin of the scrotum to form the floor of the urethra, taking over flaps from either side of the scrotum to cover up this inverted flap. The wound exhibited healthy signs of healing, but the man, being very anxious to see his native land, and, probably, his bride, left this hospital of his own accord, on 25th November, 1920, equipped with simple surgical dressings.
I submit the above notes, with a hope that these will be of some interest to the profession, because it is not likely that such cases will be seen in other Mahomedan countries. The above notes are published with the kind permission of the operator, to whom I am very much thankful.
No.2 [The quality of the pictures is the best that could be achieved.]
|FGM vs MGM |
This page is not intended to deny or minimise in any way the shocking pain and harm of FGM.
Many people emphatically deny any similarity between Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Male Genital Mutilation (MGM, circumcision). Here is a comparison:
Cutting? YES YES
Of the genitals? YES YES
Of babies? YES YES
Of children? YES YES
Without consent? YES YES
At parents' behest? YES YES
Removing erogenous tissue? YES YES
Supposedly beneficial? YES YES
Justified by aesthetics? YES YES
Justified by supposed health benefits? YES YES
Justified by religion? YES YES
Justified by sexual effects? YES YES
Justified by custom? YES YES
Justified by conformity? YES YES
Effects minimised by its supporters? YES YES
Performed by its adult victims? YES YES
Extremely painful? YES YES
Can cause harm? YES YES
Very severe damage? USUALLY SOMETIMES
Can cause death?YES YES
Legal in Western countries?NO YES
Anthropologist Kristen Bell has written an important article analysing why it is hard for people in circumcising cultures to make the link between FGM and MGM, in terms of our construction of gender:
Ultimately, the message is clear: genital mutilation is gendered. These male and female genital operations are not merely seen to differ in degree, they are seen to differ in kind. Thus, despite the heterogeneous voices speaking out against female circumcision, a common thread unites many: all forms of female genital cutting are seen to constitute a sexual mutilation and violation of bodily integrity, and male genital operations are dismissed as benign.
Another good comparison read it there I am not going to edit this
|A website promoting Malaysia has a page beginning "Among Muslims, circumcision is a must for both male and female." The rest of the page is an admiring description of male circumcision only. |
FGM is practised only where MGM is practised, with one exception (an African tribe that has recently abandoned MGM). There is a good reason for this. It takes typically over 14 days of vicious trying for an African man to make his new bride fit him, according to a Somalian (infibulated) lecturer at the 7th Symposium on Genital Integrity, in Washington, D.C. in April 2002. This would not be possible if the groom had an intact penis.
Historically, FGM was known as "female circumcision" when it was regarded as a foreign custom of no particular interest. The change in name to "Female Genital Mutilation" has been one of the greatest levers in making people understand the full atrocity of it. Now Intactivists are attempting to do the same with Male Genital Mutilation.
FGM is not only tribal:
"Indicative of the regard in which female circumcision is held is the decision made by the National Blue Shield Association on May 18, 1977, which stated that henceforth they would no longer pay for a number of procedures considered "obsolete or ineffective," such as ... female circumcision."
Wallerstein, Edward, "Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy", 1980, p. 185.
Circumcision in the Female: Its Necessity and How to Perform It "The same category of diseases having their origin in nerve-waste, caused by a pathological foreskin in the male, may be duplicated in the female, from practically the same cause, and in addition, other diseases peculiar to females."
Benjamin E. Dawson, MD, Kansas City, MO
American Journal of Clinical Medicine
vol. 22, no. 6, pp.520-523
Circumcision of the Female "If the male needs circumcision for cleanliness and hygiene, why not the female? The procedure is easy. The same reasons that apply for the circumcision of males are generally valid when considered for the female."
C.F. McDonald, MD, Milwaukee, WI
GP, vol.XVIII, no. 3, pp. 98-99
Female Circumcisions, Indications and a New Technique "Redundance or phimosis of the female prepuce can prevent proper enjoyment of sexual relations; yet some modern physicians overlook indications for circumcision. Properly carried out, circumcision should bring improvement to 85-90% of cases - with resulting cure of psychosomatic illness and prevention of divorces."
W.G. Rathmann, MD, Los Angeles, CA
GP, vol.XX, no.3, pp.115-120
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued separate policies on MGM and FGM. They are contrasted side by side on this site.
Articles like this are common:
September 30, 2008 Male and Female Circumcision Basics
Why Female Genital Mutilation Is More Severe
© Brandi Rhoades Many people mistakenly believe that circumcision is the same whether done on a male or female. [Wrong: nobody says they are the same, except as human rights abuses.] Find out the differences.
Male circumcision still exists in many parts of the post-industrial world while female circumcision does not and is at the center of many inflammatory news articles. Some people argue the practices are the same [Hardly anyone puts it as simplistically as "the same"] and that circumcision done on girls is reviled only because it occurs primarily in Africa. [Or rather, because male circumcision is familiar but female genital cutting is perceived as "alien".] Learning more about the practices will help understand why the two practices are not equivalent.
One of the primary differences in the two practices is that while male circumcision happens around the world but is more common in Western nations, FGM is almost exclusively a phenomenon in Africa. [Wrong: Male Genital Cutting is prevalent only in the Muslim world, the US, the Philippines, South Korea, tribal Africa, Israel, eastern Polynesia and outback Australia. Female Genital Cutting is very common in Indonesia.] Most people in the Judeo-Christian tradition, which includes millions of people in the United States, believe in male circumcision to be done shortly after birth. [Wrong: Christianity has condemned circumcision from its beginnings.] In parts of Africa, FGM is a religious ritual, though its roots most often are cultural.
Male circumcision happens under medical supervision, unlike the majority of female circumcision rituals. [Wrong: male circumcision is widespread under tribal conditions in Africa and performed by non-medical people throughout the Islamic world. FGC is performed by medical personnel in Indonesia.] Female genital mutilation typically occurs in a village where there is no medical care. The girls do not receive any anesthesia, which is rarely the case with male circumcision, and the instruments are not sterilized. FGM also tends to be carried out by people trained as the village’s “circumciser,” but not by someone with medical training, meaning the cuts are jagged an inexact.
Male babies in the United States also receive follow-up medical care and can get treatment should any problems arise from the circumcision while girls who are the victims of FGM do not have this opportunity because of poor healthcare in areas where it is performed. Girls die or face infections each year because of the lack of follow-up care available for complications from genital mutilation. [22 boys died from tribal circumcision in three weeks in 2008 in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.]
FGM involves the cutting off of entire portions of the female anatomy. For boys, the removal of the foreskin is more about removing an “extra” piece of skin than removing a center of pleasure. [Wrong: The foreskin is not "extra" it is integral to the male sexual system. FGC may involve no more than a token nick.] Removing the clitoris, which occurs in many FGM rituals, is done to help ensure that girls do not derive any pleasure from their sexuality, thus encouraging them to remain pure. The male equivalent of FGM would be the removal of the tip of the penis up to and including the removal of the penis and scrotum. Female genital mutilation is far more severe than male circumcision.
Many in the U.S. argue against male circumcision as well. Because FGM is more severe does not diminish their arguments. Male circumcision very well may not be a good idea and may fade out, but that does not negate the fact that the female version is not equivalent in terms of immediate result or long-term consequence.
[This article ignores any ethical or human rights issues involved in removing healthy, sensitive tissue from a non-consenting person. A pity, because of couse it would find the case against Female Genital Cutting very strong on that basis alone.]
The copyright of the article Male and Female Circumcision Basics in Gender Inequality is owned by Brandi Rhoades. Permission to republish Male and Female Circumcision Basics in print or online must be granted by the author in writing. [This is fair use. The original site does not allow comments.]
As well as this collection of studys
- The End...