Intactivism News

January - March 2012

To more recent news


the Monitor (Uganda)
March 30, 2012

Support circumcision to prevent Aids, health officials tell clergy

By Rajab Mukombozi

Health officials have urged religious leaders to join them in promoting male circumcision to fight HIV/Aids. During a meeting on HIV/Aids in Mbarara Town on Tuesday, health officials noted that religious leaders command a big following and that their negative stance on some strategies like condom use are a setback to the fight against the pandemic.

The Executive Director of Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, Dr George Upenytho, said: “Safe male circumcision is a government policy but it has lagged behind. We need support of all stakeholders, including religious leaders from all denominations.”

He said male circumcision should not be looked at as a strategy for only HIV/Aids prevention but also other diseases like cervical and penis cancer. [A "cure" looking for a disease....] The Mbarara Senior Health Officer, Mr Lubega Kazooba, said male circumcision has proven to be a good strategy for prevention of HIV/Aids [not in the field] but added that it should be used alongside other strategies of abstinence, being faithful and using condoms.

The Rev. Apollo Tweteise of All Saints Church Mbarara said the church is not against male circumcision but added that its promotion should be well packaged such that the church is not seen as promoting immorality. [If they promote circumcision and condemn condoms they are guilty of murder.]

Dr Isaac Kigozi, an official of Mulago-Mbarara Joint Aids Programme, which convened the meeting, said they have circumcised more than 4000 males in the district since May last year. He added that they are going to extend the service to all health centre IVs in the district.


This is scandalous!

Gant Daily
March 29, 2012

HIV services in western refugee camps overwhelmed


Isingiro, Uganda (IRIN) – Health workers manning five health centers in two refugee camps in the southwestern Ugandan district of Isingiro say they are overwhelmed by the high number of refugees and local residents in need of HIV services.

... Medical Teams International (MTI) , a medical NGO that works in humanitarian emergencies ... runs two clinics of its own and supports three government health centers in the settlements. Some 180 health workers, only three of whom are doctors, are responsible for a population of over 139,000 people – 63,749 refugees and more than 76,000 local residents – in the area, which has an HIV prevalence of 6 percent.

The UN Refugee Agency , which provides MTI with US$2 per refugee per year for medication, says it difficult to recruit and retain health personnel to work among Uganda’s refugee populations.

Dr Isaac Odongo, MTI’s regional program manager for southwestern Uganda, noted that the need for information on HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) was crucial for refugees, many of whom came from conflict-prone areas of the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) where such information was hard to come by.

“The HIV infection rates are generally low among the refugees when they just come [but] with time, they get into reckless activities [unprotected sex] with locals and they get infected,” he said.

Uganda suffers from a chronic shortage of health workers – less than half of the vacant health positions are filled –


At one of the health centers in Nakivale refugee settlement there are 69 HIV-exposed infants who need close monitoring and supervision. However, the health center has only one general doctor, Dr Gideon Ndaula, who has to see HIV-positive people as well as other patients, and the same scenario is repeated in health centers across the settlement.

On the day IRIN/PlusNews visited the facility, Ndaula was performing male circumcisions and was unable to attend to other patients. Uganda’s Ministry of Health has embarked on a large-scale voluntary medical male circumcision program as part of HIV prevention efforts.


Health workers are often too busy to provide counseling on infant feeding for HIV-positive mothers, many of whom could infect their babies through incorrect feeding methods .

Florence Ajonye, the HIV/AIDS focal person at the heal facility in Nakivale settlement, told IRIN/PlusNews that patients often had to wait to be enrolled on life-prolonging ARV drugs, even when they qualified.

“There are so many patients here to see. The doctor sees between 30 and 50 [every day] – far too many to ensure adequate attention. Sometimes people wait for hours to be attended to. As a result… we start with those who are critically ill,” she said.

“The supplies are not enough. There are times we run short of ARVs and Septrin [an antibiotic used to prevent opportunistic infections] for our patients. ...

“At times we have come here [the health center] and found no drugs,” said one patient....


Medscape Urology (with video)
March 28, 2012

Circumcision Hype?

By Dr. Gerald Chodak

The latest headline appearing on the wire services reports an association between circumcision and the risk for developing or not developing prostate cancer in the future. This is based on a study published in Cancer, in which Wright and colleagues[1] looked at 2 case/control populations of about 1700 men.

Each of the 2 studies reported on whether or not the study cohort had been circumcised, their ages at first intercourse, and whether they had sexually transmitted diseases. The results showed about a 15% lower incidence of prostate cancer in the men who had undergone circumcision before beginning sexual activity. [And the statistical significance of the claim is quite marginal.]

These findings, and the headlines, have stimulated a lot of discussion about whether or not this lends support for circumcision and whether or not we should use it as a basis for recommending circumcision for newly born boys.

First, we need to realize that this is not the type of study that proves cause and effect, which means that the association may or may not be valid. Other important criticisms about the study should be mentioned. For example, the fact that men in the control group had not been diagnosed with prostate cancer does not mean that they do not have prostate cancer. It is unclear how many of them had undergone screening or prostate biopsies to determine whether microscopic disease was present. [Since they were obtained by a random telephone survey, probably very few.]

We know from autopsy studies that about 30% of the men may indeed have undetected prostate cancer. If that were the case here, it would certainly have an effect on the real difference in prostate cancer incidence in circumcised vs uncircumcised men.

At the end of the day, we have a lot of hype and publicity about a study that really does not prove whether or not circumcision reduces the likelihood of developing prostate cancer. There are other ongoing debates about the merits or risks associated with circumcision in newborn children that will not be resolved by the presence of these new data.

For now, all we can say is that this study found an interesting association, but the flaws in the study mean that the results are very questionable. We need better evidence before we can truly say that circumcision prevents prostate cancer. This study does not make that proof, nor does the authors' claim that it is proof of a cause and effect.

Earlier story


The Sowetan
March 23, 2012

From hobo to top musician

By Sbusiso Shongwe

HIP-HOP star Chronic X this week related how he narrowly escaped from an initiation school in the mountains of Eastern Cape.

Born Xolani Fani at Dimbaza in Eastern Cape, the musician says he ran away from an initiation school in 2000.

"I had only R300 but I also had a dream: I had to run for my life."

These tales are embedded in his Xhosa/English debut album, Miss SA, and a music video for the track Look At That. Most of the songs in the album are about Dimbaza in Eastern Cape; the streets, the people, the love and the cruelty that left his community in distress.

"But one song that still rings new every time I listen to it is Big Brother," he says.

Big Brother recounts the death of a friend who died as a result of a circumcision gone wrong, which doctors say was pneumonia. But Chronic X is sure that whatever happened in the mountains killed his friend.

"My friend went to the mountain and on the fourth day he was dead. I was scared. He died on Saturday, we buried him Sunday and I was gone on Monday.

"Surprisingly, my parents understood that I had to leave, something they would not have done under normal circumstances and given that I was 17 years old," says Chronic X.

"During that period more people of my youth were dying, some from petty crimes, some from community beatings. But most of them were dying from entabeni [the hill, where the ritual is held] and that shocked the whole community. These are untold tales depicting events at Dimbaza in 2000."



Your Health Asia
March 23, 2012

Man sues over son's botched circumcision

KUALA LUMPUR - A 14-year-old boy has sued the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department and two others for negligence during a circumcision, which he claimed had left his "sexual function doubtful".

However, the department was let off the hook when High Court Judge Justice Zabariah Mohd Yusof allowed its application to strike out the claim with a cost of RM1,000 (S$410) yesterday.

Case management for the claim against the two other defendants - Sunathrone Bio Medical Sdn Bhd and its medical officer adviser Dr Mohd Tasron Surat - has been fixed for April 5.

She made the order after hearing submissions by Federal Counsel Mohamad Sallehud-din Md Ali and the boy's lawyer Stefeny David in chambers.

Mohamad Muhammad Farhan, who sued through his father Ishahak Mak, said he had suffered severe injuries to his private parts as well as emotional and psychological disturbance due to their negligence after taking part in a mass circumcision programme on Nov 16, 2008.

He said there were 357 participants in the event known as Program Sunathon Perdana Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan at Masjid Al-Muqarrabin in Bandar Tasik Selatan.

The programme was organised by the department and Sunathrone.

In the lawsuit filed on Nov 14, Muhammad Farhan claimed that the defendants had failed to ensure that there was no injury to his private parts during the circumcision. [That's impossible to ensure, since there is always injury.]

He said Sunathrone had failed to ensure that it had sufficient and experienced doctors to conduct the circumcision, alleging that he suffered pain on his private parts and had to undergo other surgeries.

He claimed that he had suffered pain and could not urinate the day after the circumcision.

Muhammad Farhan said a government hospital specialist had since advised him that the condition of his "sexual function" at present was "doubtful".



The Telegraph
March 19, 2012

Dutch Roman Catholic Church 'castrated at least 10 boys'

By Bruno Waterfield

At least 10 teenage boys or young men under the age of 21 were surgically castrated "to get rid of homosexuality" while in the care of the Dutch Roman Catholic Church in the 1950s.

Evidence of the castrations has emerged amid controversy that it was not included in the findings of an official investigation into sexual abuse within the church last year.

The NRC Handelsblad newspaper identified Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home.

Joep Dohmen, the investigative journalist who uncovered the Heithuis case, also found evidence of at least nine other castrations. "These cases are anonymous and can no longer be traced," he said. "There will be many more.


Minutes of meetings held in the 1950s show that inspectors were present when castrations were discussed. The documents also reveal that the Catholic staff did not think parents needed to be involved.


"I am shocked that boys were being castrated in the 1950s," said Khadija Arib, a Labour MP. "I want an independent investigation. We must find out how many cases there were, who knew about it and why the government did not act."


March 20, 2012

South Africa: KZN Rolls Out Dodgy Circumcision KLamp Despite Questions

By Anso Thom

HIV activists and senior doctors have called for an urgent investigation into the continued rollout of a controversial male circumcision device in KwaZulu-Natal.

The demand comes after the Treatment Action Campaign came into possession of evidence that included disturbing graphic images of injuries circumcised men contracted, allegedly after using the TaraKLamp, a device which is being rolled out in the province with the tacit support of the provincial government and the Zulu king Goodwill Zwelethini.

According to media reports last year, the Zulu king was given a car by those who are selling the TaraKLamp.


The TAC was handed a study apparently being used by the KwaZulu-Natal government that compares the TaraKLamp to the Forceps Guided Method which is used in the rest of the country.

Researchers claimed that there was no real difference between the two, but it has since emerged that the study was illegal, as the researchers had no ethical clearance to conduct it.


Geffen said the study proved that the province was prepared to proceed with "ethically dubious" research.

"The Premier knew this, yet he allowed the situation to continue. He must take responsibility for this disgraceful situation and an urgent commission of enquiry into the actions of the KwaZulu-Natal government is needed with the use of the TaraKLamp ended immediately," said Geffen.


The TaraKLamp works by clamping shut on the foreskin so that the blood supply to it is cut off. Over a period of 7 to 10 days the foreskin is supposed to die and fall off with the clamp, but sometimes the clamp must be surgically removed.


Principal investigator of the controversial study, Dr Irwin Friedman confirmed that the report "did not provide any robust evidence in favour of the TaraKLamp and may not legitimately be used for this purpose". He said the report was only for internal use.

He conceded that a serious strategic error was made in reviewing data before final ethics approval had been given.

One of the Co-Principal investigators, the Health Systems Trust, withdrew from the study once it emerged that ethical permission had not been obtained.

"Even it was only intended for internal distribution, the report is so inept it would make an undergraduate blush. That someone was paid for this, and over such an important topic, is astonishing. I can only hope that no one in the KZN health department took this nonsense seriously," said Professor Francois Venter, Deputy Executive Director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute.

Sandile Tshabalala, Programme Manager for Medical Male Circumcision in the province, ... was at pains to point out that adverse events were due to the "skill of the human" rather tha[n] the device. [Perfect! Credit the instrument for any good, but blame the operator for any bad.]


Dr Francesca Conradie, President of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society warned that great care should be taken not to undermine the national medical male circumcision campaign. [No, always protect circumcision at all costs.]


The only randomised clinical trial of the Tara KLamp involving adults was conducted in Orange Farm, comparing it to the standard forceps guided method.

The trial was ended early because the adverse event rate in the KLamp arm was about 37% versus about 2% for the standard method. Men also reported intense pain from the KLamp.

The KLamp is also more expensive than the forceps guided method.

* The graphic images can be viewed at www.quackdown.info

Earlier story


The World (includes audio)
March 20, 2012

Reporter Threatened Over Female Circumcision Story in Liberia

By Jina Moore

I came to Liberia to work with a newspaper reporter named Mae Azango, in the capital city, Monrovia. We were going to do a story about midwives, but our plans got seriously disrupted.

Just before I arrived, Azango had been working on an article about female circumcision. The World Health Organization and human rights groups have campaigned to stop the practice, which many people call “female genital mutilation.” The custom exists in many African countries, including Liberia.

Azango found a woman to talk to her about what she’d experienced at age thirteen.

“Four women held her down, and a woman cut her,” Azango explained. The woman said many girls were circumcised at the same time. “And she said when they cut them they don’t use any form of anesthesia. And it hurt. She said it hurt so much.”

Stories about the practice are common in the Western media, but here in Liberia, writing about the topic is still sensitive. It’s almost unheard of for a woman to talk in such detail about what happened to her.

In Liberia, genital cutting is an initiation into a secret society, called Sande. Girls who join take an oath never to talk about the group or its rituals.

Azango wanted to shed light on the practice.

“Why should you carry a woman through that?” she said. “Grabbing her and torturing her and cutting her is a violation of her rights.”

Azango’s newspaper, FrontPage Africa, put her investigation on the cover on International Women’s Day, March 8.

“Nobody would dare put a women’s circumcision story on the front page,” said the publisher, Rodney Sieh, “but we can do it.” He said his paper is known for investigative stories that others won’t touch.

The newspaper expected a backlash, but they were unprepared for how bad it would get.

On the day the story appeared, women reacted so angrily that Azango’s editor called her back from the rural village where we were interviewing midwives, and we canceled our plans for other rural reporting.

Women were threatening Azango. They said that if they caught her, they’d circumcise her.

“And when I’m cut, I won’t be able to talk,” said Azango. That’s because anyone who is cut takes an oath before the cutting. The oath is that if you ever speak of the ritual, you will be killed.

The day after the article ran, Azango heard that a powerful woman inside the Liberian government looked for her at her office. The woman said, “We told her to stay away from this story.”

A few days later, the threats got even closer. Azango’s editor, Wade Williams, met a tenant in Azango’s house. “She said [the article] shouldn’t have been published here.”

According to Williams, the woman complained, “You cannot degrade our tradition and publish it here. That’s an insult to us.” Then the woman told Williams that if Azango traveled to rural Liberia again, she’d disappear.

Azango went into hiding the day the story ran, almost two weeks ago. She hasn’t slept at home or been to her office since.



Swazi Observer
March 19, 2012

Some Swazi men's manhoods amputated

By Winile Mavuso

... During a workshop on the HIV Prevention toolkit at Male Circumcision (MC) Litsemba Leftu Clinic, Doctor Khumbulani Moyo ... said most of the time penile cancer attacks men with uncircumcised penises. [Not so.] He said circumcised men were less at risk; hence emphasis should be made on the importance of circumcision in the prevention of many diseases, including sexually transmitted infections. Other diseases may include genital watts. The foreskin might also have cracks.


Circumcision Nurse at Litsemba Letfu, Nkosinathi Moyo said ... said some men refused to circumcise because of misconceptions about circumcision. Some men say that circumcision is a permanent condom, while some say the foreskin is used to make a certain spice. “Others are afraid that they would be forced to do an HIV test before circumcision yet that is not the case. People who are HIV positive are not denied circumcision, with 350 CD 4 count the procedure can still be done.

Those who refuse to do an HIV test still undergo circumcision,” she said. [So they can pass themselves off as "safe"?]

Girls resort to other forms of sex to remain virgins
SOME girls opt for anal sex so that they remain virgins, Swaziland National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS (NERCHA)’s Futhi-Dennis Langa revealed.

During a workshop for Non-Governmental Organisations on the usage of the HIV Prevention toolkit at Pigg’s Peak Hotel last week, Langa said a survey done showed that some girls said they had never had sex but agreed to have had anal sex.

Virginity is the pride of young girls in Swaziland so that they attend the reed dance. They pride themselves by remaining virgins; however, some of them chose other means of having sex other than penetrative sex. [This is a new meaning of "penetrative".]

This could include anal and oral sex.

All these forms of sex expose young people to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.



the Jewish Week
March 18, 2012

NYC Health Dept. Investigating New Case Of Neonatal Herpes; Bris Rite Suspected

By Hella Winston

The New York City Department of Health received a report within the last week of an infant with symptoms of neonatal herpes and the case is currently under investigation, The Jewish Week has learned. (By law, such reports must be made within 24 hours of a diagnosis).

While the health department could not confirm where the report came from or whether it involved the circumcision ritual metzitzah b’peh, a source in the medical community told The Jewish Week that a suspected case of neonatal herpes related to metzitzah b’peh, or oral suction, has been treated at Maimonides Hospital within the past week.

Eileen Tynion, a spokeswoman for Maimonides, told The Jewish Week, “we are bound by federal law (HIPAA) and can neither confirm nor deny the presence of any patient in our hospital.”

This case comes on the heels of revelations that four other infants who had undergone the controversial circumcision rite of metzitzah b’peh were treated for neonatal herpes, two in Rockland County in 2009 and two more recently in New Jersey.

According to the Rockland County health commissioner, Dr. Joan Facelle, in neither of the Rockland County cases was the health department able to make a link to a particular mohel because the mohel’s identity could not be confirmed. Both of the infants were treated and survived.

New York City authorities currently investigating the September herpes-related death of an infant who underwent metzitzah b’peh have also been unable to confirm the identity the mohel.

According to a source with knowledge of the investigation, the family has “closed ranks” around the mohel and members of the community are saying that the baby died “because of the mother not caring for him properly.” [...blaming a (surviving) victim]

The Jewish Week was privy to one recent conversation between a mohel and a community member in which this same allegation was also made by the mohel.


Unlike in New York state, which in early 2006 required that cases of herpes in infants aged 60 days or younger be reported to the health department, New Jersey does not list neonatal herpes among its list of communicable and reportable diseases. As such, it is impossible to know how many metzitzah b’peh-related cases may have occurred in the state, which is home to the large haredi community of Lakewood, among others.

According to a 2009 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, untreated neonatal herpes simplex virus is associated wih a 40 percent survival rate, and even with the early initiation of high-dose intravenous acyclovir therapy, it can result in “considerable disability among survivors.” The neonatal herpes virus can spread to the brain and central nervous system causing encephalitis and meningitis and leading to mental retardation or cerebral palsy. Herpes can also spread to internal organs, such as the liver and lungs.

Earlier story


Men are not buying the hype ...

KFM (Uganda)
March 17, 2012

Male circumcision still low: raises worries

By Diana Wanyana

The ministry of health is worried over the low turn up of male Circumcision in most parts of the country.

Statistics from the ministry of health indicate that Male circumcision stands at 24 percent as compared to 25 percent five years ago.

The assistant commissioner National Disease Control Dr. Alex Opio says, the country may not achieve the millennium development goal 6 of combating HIV and other diseases if the male circumcision practice is not promoted.

Dr. Opio calls for massive sensitization of male circumcision given the fact it reduces the chances of being affected by HIV.

Scientific trials have shown that male circumcision can reduce a man’s risk of becoming infected with up to 60 percent.

A recent report released by the ministry of health indicates that the HIV prevalence rate has increased to 6.7% from 6.4% over the last five years.

Earlier story


March 16, 2012

Two Babies Sickened by M'Tzizah B'Peh in Lakewood

Two Jewish infants in New Jersey were recently infected with — but survived — a herpes virus attributed to their ritual circumcisers’ use of an oral suctioning technique that is said to have caused the death of an infant in New York in September.

Dr. Margaret Fisher, chair of pediatrics at Monmouth Medical Center, told the Forward that a newborn boy was admitted to the center within the past month, infected with the virus, known as HSV-1, within days of his circumcision. The other case “was in the last year or two,” said Fisher, a pediatric infectious disease specialist. Both boys had herpes lesions on their genitals but “extremely mild cases,” she said, and both were successfully treated for 10 days with intravenous anti-viral medication.


News of the New Jersey infections comes amid renewed debate sparked by the report of the baby who died in September of HSV-1, acquired when his mohel orally suctioned his circumcision wound, according to New York City officials. The procedure, known in Hebrew as metzitzah b’peh, was last blamed for causing an infant death in New York in 2006.

The death last September occurred at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center, and the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes, said recently that he is conducting a criminal investigation into the matter. Metzitzah b’peh, which is practiced in particular by ultra-Orthodox mohelim, has never been illegal. ...

The family of the infant who died in September has declined to disclose to authorities who performed their son’s circumcision, or brit mila.

In 2007, the mohel linked as an HSV-1 carrier to the death of a baby boy was prohibited under Section 16 of New York State’s Public Health Law by the state Department of Health from performing metzitzah b’peh “in and throughout the state of New York.” The mohel, Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, was also prohibited from engaging in any other practice in which he “[allows his] mouth or oral fluids to come in direct contact with an infant’s genitals…”

But a story posted online by The Jewish Week of New York on March 13 reported that Fischer was taped in a phone conversation within the last two weeks saying it “was not a problem” for him to perform the procedure, in apparent violation of the ban.

Meanwhile, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo convened a meeting March 12, bringing together state health department officials and ultra-Orthodox leaders. ...

Earlier story


My Zimbabwe
March [15], 2012

3 Grade six pupils suspended for slicing boy's penis as they were circumcising him

THREE Grade Six pupils from Gumbure Primary School in Chiwundura communal lands have been suspended from school after they recently kidnapped a schoolmate before they sliced part of his male organ using a sharp object in a suspected botched attempt to circumcise the boy.

Sources at the school said the three boys, two aged 13 and the other 14, were later picked by police from Muchakata Police Base for questioning.

The sources said the three juveniles indicated that they wanted to "circumcise" their victim, aged eight. The incident, which has become the talk of the Chiwundura community, occurred about two weeks ago. Sources at the school said the three boys were suspended this week after they again "kidnapped" their victim whom they were accusing of reporting them to the police and assaulted him.

"The boy had just reported back to school last Friday after spending a week admitted to Gweru Provincial Hospital. He was taken to the hospital following the first incident of abuse. On seeing their victim, the three boys then again kidnapped him after knocking off and assaulted him for reporting them to the police," said the source.


Meanwhile, the father of the eight-year-old boy, Mr Maxwell Chiwandikwa, said he was now considering withdrawing his boy from the school. ...

"My child told me that the boys who injured his organ had an empty yoghurt plastic container, which they used to gather blood, which was oozing out of his male organ. No one knows what happened to that container and the blood they took. This makes the three boys' act very suspicious," he said.


"I am now considering withdrawing my child because after the culprits' suspension, you never know what they would do next. They can waylay and kidnap my child again. It's no longer safe to allow my son to continue attending the same school anymore," he said.


Mr Chiwandikwa said he was disappointed by the police's failure to respond swiftly after the incident was reported.



March 14, 2012

Banned Herpes Mohel Still Circumcising Babies

By Ben Yakas

Last week, the Brooklyn district attorney confirmed that prosecutors are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a two-week old infant who died last fall in Brooklyn after he contracted herpes from a religious circumcision at Maimonides Medical Center. As we noted, the case sounded eerily similar to that of Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, a Rockland County mohel who was found to have given three babies herpes through the ritual several years ago. Prosecutors have noticed that as well, and just announced they were investigating Fischer in connection to the baby's death—and it turns out that Fischer has continued performing the controversial religious circumcisions despite a court order to stop.

Fischer remains prohibited by a 2007 court order from performing the metzizah b'peh ritual, in which a rabbi or mohel removes blood from the wound with his mouth. Fischer was sent a letter from the NY State Department of Health about it this week: “He was sent a letter reminding him the summary order is still in effect and that he cannot perform this ritual,” agency spokesman Michael Moran said. Moran added that Fischer is part of the overall investigation, given his past history.

The Jewish Week discovered recently that the medical protocol adopted in 2006 by the NY State DOH and the haredi community to prevent the transmission of herpes from the religious circumcisions was rescinded less than a year later due to internal politics. They also discovered that Fischer was still performing the ritual—they got taped conversations in which Fischer is heard scheduling a circumcision with a caller who asks him to perform metzitzah b’peh. On the recording, “Rabbi Fischer asks the caller whether the bris will take place ‘in Monsey or the city’, noting that he ‘can only do it in Rockland County.’”

On that last point, Failed Messiah notes it appears that Rockland Health Department Commissioner Dr. Joan Facelle may have illegally allowed Fischer to continue performing the circumcisions. If so, she can be criminally prosecuted by the state, and would be personally liable civilly if any babies were infected by Fischer.

Earlier story


Torture the data, and it will confess to anything

March 12, 2012

Circumcision tied to lower prostate cancer risk

By Frederik Joelving

(Reuters Health) - Circumcised men may have a slightly lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who still have their foreskin, according to a new study.

The World Health Organization already recommends the controversial procedure [for adult volunteers] based on research showing it lowers heterosexual men's risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Last year, scientists also reported that wives and girlfriends of circumcised men had lower rates of infection with human papillomavirus or HPV, which in rare cases may lead to cervical and other cancers. And last week, researchers reported that African men who were circumcised were less likely to be infected with a particular herpes virus.

The new work jibes with those findings, [actually it has nothing to do with those findings] but it falls short of actually proving that removing a boy's foreskin will cut his future cancer risk, said Dr. Jonathan L. Wright, who led the research.

"I would not go out and advocate for widespread circumcision to prevent prostate cancer," Wright, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, told Reuters Health."We see an association, but it doesn't prove causality."

The results were published Monday in the journal Cancer and add to the longstanding debate over whether boys should keep their foreskin.

Although most Americans men are circumcised, the procedure has become less popular over the past decade, and various groups have spoken out against it.

In September, the Royal Dutch Medical Association discouraged circumcision, calling it a "painful and harmful ritual." And a few weeks later, California Governor Jerry Brown struck down an effort to ban circumcision in San Francisco arguing it would infringe on religious freedom.


For their study, Wright and his colleagues compared two groups of more than 1,600 men who had answered questions about their medical history, sex life and whether or not they were circumcised.

[So circumcision status is based on self-report, introuducing another source of error.]

Half of the men had prostate cancer, while the other half didn't.

In the cancer-ridden group, 69 percent of the men had been circumcised, while that was the case for 72 percent of the comparison group, suggesting a small protective effect of the practice. [How small? You'd have to circumcise TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY-FIVE BABIES to prevent ONE case of prostate cancer.]

Even after accounting for a host of other factors -- such as age, race and whether or not the men had been screened for prostate cancer -- those without a foreskin still had a 15 percent lower risk of the disease. Only men who'd been circumcised before they became sexually active were at lower risk.

[Weasel-wording. They had pooled the late-circumcised men - at non-significantly higher risk - with the never-circumcised to achieve even this modest "protection".]

The foreskin is prone to tiny tears during sex, which may help bacteria and viruses enter the bloodstream. [This is just made up]

Wright said some viruses can trigger cancer when they get incorporated into human DNA. Another possibility is that sexually transmitted microorganisms could lead to cancer by causing chronic inflammation.

That might help explain the link found by several research groups between prostate cancer and various types of sexually transmitted infection.

One in six American men will get [or rather, be diagnosed with] prostate cancer during his lifetime, although only a minority of them will die from the disease.

While some doctors advocate screening for the disease, the government-backed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released a draft proposal recommending against it. [because it's too invasive.]

Wright said his study -- the largest and most comprehensive of its kind so far -- was focused on shedding light on cancer development, rather than prevention.

"We need to do more work to try to understand this," he said. "Our overarching goal is to understand how cancer develops in people."

NEW! Prostate cancer
To a critique of the study (including the derivation of the "245 babies" figure)


Yay! Pwned!

NZ Herald
March 10, 2012

Surgeon: Circumcision risks too great

By Jarrod Booker

An Auckland paediatric surgeon has hit out against calls for for routine circumcision of newborn boys, saying the risks of the painful "non-consensual mutilation" far outweigh any benefits.

Dr Neil Price, of Starship Children's Health, questioned a study led by Sydney University professor of medicine Brian Morris which claimed evidence in favour of infant circumcision was overwhelming.

Dr Price said any health benefit was very small when put into context and compared to the risk of complications such as bleeding and damage to the penis.

He also questioned the ethics of performing such a "painful procedure on a non-consenting infant".

"If anyone believes that this is not painful they should just listen to the screams that accompany blood testing and immunisation in babies and they should get an idea that 'yes, infants do feel pain'."

[It is striking that he does not refer to the screams of boys being circumcised - he has probably not heard any for a long time.]

About 10 per cent [No, more like 5%] of New Zealand's male babies are circumcised - often for cultural or religious reasons.

The Government pays for the procedure only for medical reasons, such as frequent infections.

The research by Professor Morris and his colleagues found the risk of urinary tract infection and kidney inflammation in uncircumcised infants was 10 times greater than in those who were circumcised.

Later in life the uncircumcised had a higher risk of prostate and penile cancer, and their risk of contracting HIV and syphilis, the risk was three to eight times greater.

But Dr Price said the findings seemed to be the same "blinkered ideology" Professor Morris had been "peddling for years".

"We could prevent 50 per cent of testicular tumours, which are far more common, by removing one testicle from each male. Would Professor Morris be interested in this?"

The purported benefits, when put in context, were insignificant. Recurrent urinary tract infections, for example, were rare in boys less than 12 months old, and penile cancer was a rare disease affecting elderly men.

"The complication rate of circumcision even in the best hands is over 1 per cent, therefore more boys will be harmed than advantaged," he said.

"In the last year I have had to reconstruct two boys who had all of the skin removed from their penis by a 'routine' circumcision, and there have been multiple cases of excessive bleeding," Dr Price said.


Earlier story


If this was not about sex (and religion) we would be thinking straight about it

the Jewish Week
March 8, 2012

Exclusive: Protocol On Controversial Bris Practice Was Rescinded In 2007

By Hella Winston

The medical protocol adopted by the New York State Department of Health and the haredi community in 2006 to prevent the transmission of neonatal herpes from a controversial circumcision practice was rescinded less than a year later, The Jewish Week has learned.

A spokesman for the state health department confirmed to the paper Thursday afternoon that the protocol was rescinded when the administration of Gov. Eliot Spitzer took office in 2007 from outgoing Gov. George Pataki.

"With the change of the administration [in January 2007], there was a new health commissioner [the late Richard F. Daines] and he basically rescinded the protocols," Peter Constantakes, the spokesman, told The Jewish Week.


The Jewish Week has learned that the mohel in question was Yitzchok Fischer. According to the state health department, Fischer was involved in the infection of another infant, who was admitted to a hospital with clinical diagnosis of neonatal herpes on May 21, 2007 "with lesions that appeared two days after a circumcision that was conducted on May 16th, 2007" performed by Fischer using metzitzah b'peh. Based on that, the health department ordered Fischer to stop practicing metzitzah b'peh.


At the time the protocols were signed, they were the subject of heated controversy, as doctors and other medical experts claimed that the practices they outlined - including requiring mohels to sanitize their hands and rinse their mouths with mouthwash - did nothing to guard against the transmission of the herpes virus. Indeed, even the city's health commissioner at the time, Dr. Thomas Frieden, expressed serious reservations about the sufficiency of the guidelines and wrote a letter to Novello outlining what he deemed to be "fundamental concerns" with the protocol.


Earlier story


Gay News Network
March, 2012

Circumcision not cure-all for public health, ACON warns

By Serkan Ozturk

ACON [the AIDS Council of New South Wales] has reiterated its position to not support the implementation of male circumcision as a HIV prevention strategy in Australia, after a call last week by a number of local experts for public hospitals to perform infant circumcisions.


ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill told SX that with over 80 per cent of newly acquired HIV notifications in Australia arising from homosexual activity, he did not view circumcision as an essential HIV prevention priority in the Australian context, particularly as the current evidence had only shown that circumcision would be effective in contexts where there is a high risk of contracting HIV through female to male transmission.

“ACON does not support the implementation of male circumcision as a HIV prevention strategy in Australia.

“It’s likely that there would be a modest sex between men prevention benefit were all guys to be circumcised, [even this "modest" claim has no basis in fact] but nowhere near at the level to justify a general reintroduction of the practice,” Parkhill said.

“A comprehensive health promotion approach including promoting consistent condom use is the safest and most cost effective HIV prevention strategy particularly with an epidemic which is concentrated amongst gay men and other men who have sex with men.”

Recent studies in the past decade involving heterosexual men in parts of Africa where there is a high prevalence of HIV infection have found that circumcision can offer [statistically] significant population-level prevention benefits.

In 2007, the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS recommended that an expansion of male circumcision services be reserved for countries with “hyperendemic and generalized HIV epidemics and low prevalence of male circumcision”.

Earlier story


NY Daily Times
March 7, 2012

Baby’s Death Renews Debate Over a Circumcision Ritual

By Liz Robbins

It was not believed that Rabbi Fischer was under investigation for the latest case, and he did not return a phone call seeking comment. His lawyer from the 2004 investigation, Mark J. Kurzmann, said he would not comment.


Rabbi David Zwiebel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America... said ... “The worst thing that could happen is if the authorities regulate this practice, then it could go underground[.]” [This is not an issue when the babies are girls...]


Earlier story


March 7, 2012

Finns Party proposes circumcision ban

Finns Party MP Vesa-Matti Saarakkala is calling for the criminalisation of male circumcision in Finland. In a formal inquiry to the government, Saarakkala says expanding the circumcision ban on girls to include boys is an issue of fundamental rights.

The Finns Party parliamentarian wants the courts to adopt a streamlined approach on male circumcision. He points to two recent circumcision court cases. In one a layman and the child’s parents were convicted of conspiracy to commit assault. In the other, a doctor who performed a circumcision was not convicted, but the child’s father was fined for assault.

Saarakkala is advocating cutting out circumcision for both sexes.

Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that ritual male circumcision is legal when carried out under medical supervision.

Earlier story


March 7, 2012

Investigation to open into death of two-week-old Brooklyn infant following circumcision

Baby boy reportedly dies of herpes that may have been contracted during oral suction at circumcision.

By Shlomo Shamir

The office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced Monday that it will open an investigation into the death of a two-week-old infant who died shortly after a controversial circumcision ritual.


"The state has a compelling interest in protecting the health of children and needs to step in on an emergency basis to make sure this practice is halted immediately," said Professor Marci Hamilton, an expert in church and state from the Cardozo School of Law.

This case reawakened the old debate on the tradition of oral suction in circumcision ceremonies. Over the last few years, New York hospitals have seen numerous deaths of babies, the cause of which, tests have shown, were viruses contracted from the mohel who performed oral suction during circumcision.

The most famous was in 2005, when twin boys perished days after their circumcisions. Post-mortem tests showed conclusive evidence that the cause of death was the contraction of a virus from the mohel who performed the circumcision. The mohel was banned from continuing to practice.


NY Daily Times
March 7, 2012

Family stonewalling authorities after newborn dies from herpes contracted in ritual circumcision

Sources in Orthodox Jewish community say baby's parents were related to herpes-infected rabbi who did circumcision

By Simone Weichselbaum And Reuven Blau

Authorities are being stonewalled by the family of a newborn boy who died after contracting herpes through a controversial religious circumcision ritual, the Daily News has learned.

Multiple sources in the Orthodox Jewish community said the 2-week-old boy’s parents were related to a herpes-infected rabbi who conducted the circumcision according to tradition — using one’s mouth to remove blood from the wound.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is investigating the death and trying to identify the rabbi, or mohel, but family members have not been cooperative, sources said.

“You guys are barking up the right tree,” a law enforcement source said of word that the mohel was related to the boy. “But we don’t know yet who did what.”


Earlier story


NZ Herald
March 7, 2012

Study calls for routine circumcision

By Nicholas Jones

Circumcision reduces the risk of infections, cancer and other painful conditions and should be routinely carried out on newborn boys, a study claims.

About 10 per cent [No, under 5%, mostly Polynesian] of New Zealand's male babies are circumcised, but the Government pays for the procedure only for medical reasons, such as frequent infections.

But recent research by 12 medical experts, led by Sydney University professor of medicine [No, molecular biology] Brian Morris, claimed evidence in favour of infant circumcision was overwhelming.

Their report showed that in uncircumcised infants, the risk of urinary tract infection and kidney inflammation was 10 times greater than those circumcised. [Based on studies described by the AAP as "methodologically flawed".]

Later in life the uncircumcised had a higher risk of prostate and penile cancer, and for HIV and syphilis the risk was three to eight times greater.

But Dr Rosemary Marks, president of the NZ Paediatric Society, said while there were some "small benefits" to circumcision, they were not enough to warrant funding the procedure.

"I think that's a very long bow to draw ... compared to the other priorities that we have for health care, personally this would be very low on my list of priorities.

"I don't think this is something that should be offered routinely in the New Zealand public health system."

She said if circumcision was carried out it was crucial the person doing it was properly trained and the correct anaesthetic used.

People wanting a circumcision for religious or cultural reasons must pay about $1000 for a surgeon to perform it at a private hospital.

GPs, who charge around $300, can perform circumcisions.

After reviewing evidence on circumcision in 2010, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians declared "there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision".

Auckland paediatric surgeon James Hamill said that was the consensus among paediatric surgeons.

Benefits of circumcision had to be viewed in context, he said. "We don't live in a desert, or in a country with a high rate of HIV, so in different cultural or geographical context it may be different."

But Professor Morris described the current view of Australasian health authorities towards circumcision as "blinkered ideology".


Opposing Views
March 5, 2012

Religious Circumcision Kills 2nd Infant in Brooklyn

By Zach Lisabeth

...At this time, it is unclear who performed the procedure on this particular infant, but authorities are investigating Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer.

In 2004, three infants contracted herpes simplex 1 after bris ceremonies performed by Rabbi Fischer. ...

NY Daily News
March 6, 2012

Brooklyn District Attorney Investigating Death Of Baby Who Got Herpes During Ritual Circumcision

By Celeste Katz

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is investigating the death of a two-week old boy who perished at a Brooklyn hospital in September after contracting herpes through a controversial religious circumcision ritual.

“We are looking into the circumstances surrounding the death of this child,” said Brooklyn DA spokesman Jerry Schmetterer.

The unidentified infant died Sept. 28, 2011, at Maimonides Hospital, according to a spokeswoman for the city Medical Examiner, who confirmed the death after a News inquiry. [So it took more than five months for this death to come to light. How many more have never come to light?]

The cause of death was listed as “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction.”

Mayor Bloomberg Tuesday defended that finding.

“The doctors who found this are objective and independent scientists who don’t answer to anyone, including whoever is Mayor,” he told reporters at an unrelated event in The Bronx.

“One more point: There’s probably nobody in public life who fights harder for the separation of church and state than me. But religious liberty simply does not extend to injuring others or putting children at risk," Bloomberg continued. "So we’ll continue working with the community and others to prevent more baby boys from suffering these tragic fates.” [- by telling mohelim to use mouthwash?]

In 2004, city health officials revealed that a baby boy died after a circumcision carried out by a Rockland County rabbi who specializes in the centuries-old, ultra-Orthodox ritual known as metzizah b’peh.

Under the practice, the rabbi or mohel removes blood from the wound with his mouth - a practice city health officials have criticized, saying it carries "inherent risks" for babies.

Religious rabbis in other major cities have voluntary banned the practice, instead using a straw or other type of indirect suction.

March 5, 2012

Circumcision Ritual Blamed For 2-Week-Old Boy's Death

By Magee Hickey

..."Across the board, the infection rate for circumcisions is less than one half of one percent, " said Cantor Philip Sherman, a certified mohel. "This is part of the anti-religious, anti-circumcision trend." [Actually, the fact that this death took five months to come to light suggests that the complication/death rate is much greater than reported.]

Under the practice, a mohel removes blood from the wound with his mouth, Something city health officials say carries "inherent risks" for babies.

But mohel Sherman says it's really impossible to know what caused the death of that baby boy. The official cause is listed as "disseminated herpes simplex virus type 1. Complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction."

"The baby could have gotten herpes from a relative or someone in the Hospital, or many other people," Sherman said. "You can't say for sure it was the circumcision." ...

New York Daily News
March 3, 2012

Infant's death at Maimonides Hospital linked to circumcision

By Thomas Zambito

Unidentified infant died in September of 2011 after contracting herpes

A two-week old boy died at a Brooklyn hospital in September after contracting herpes through a religious circumcision ritual that ignited controversy in 2005 after another infant died, the Daily News has learned.

The unidentified infant died Sept. 28, 2011, at Maimonides Hospital, according to a spokeswoman for the city Medical Examiner, who confirmed the death after a News inquiry.

The cause of death was listed as “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction.”

City officials declined to comment Friday.

It’s unclear who performed the circumcision.

In 2004, city health officials revealed that a baby boy died after a circumcision carried out by a Rockland County rabbi who specializes in the centuries-old, ultra-Orthodox ritual known as metzizah b’ peh.

Under the practice, the rabbi or mohel removes blood from the wound with his mouth — a practice city health officials have criticized, saying it carried “inherent risks” for babies. [As a result mohelim practising metzitzah were required to use mouthwash - see earlier stories.]

In 2004, three infants circumcised by Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer were determined to have contracted herpes, city officials said.

Among them were twins circumcised in October 2004 after Fischer performed the religious ceremony known as a bris.

Earlier stories


American Medical Association
March 2, 2012

Male newborn circumcision rate falls to lowest level

By Kevin B. O'Reilly

The proportion of newborn boys circumcised in U.S. community hospitals is at its lowest level, 54.5%, since the federal government starting tracking the statistic in 1993.

The rate has fallen from its peak of 62.7% in 1999, when the American Academy of Pediatrics adopted a neutral position on the procedure. [Actually, their position has always been "neutral": they have just shifted their bottoms on the fence.]

However, the academy's stance, which many credit as a factor in the decline of circumcision, is being revisited in light of new evidence about the potential health benefits of circumcision. Since the AAP took its position, evidence has mounted that links higher prevalence of circumcision to lower rates of penile cancer, urinary tract infections, phimosis, balanitis and meatitis, as well as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

"I don't doubt that the academy's position is influential," said Douglas S. Diekema, MD, MPH, a member of the academy's Task Force on Circumcision that is re-examining the policy. "When the neutral policy came out, more pediatricians changed their tone to a more neutral tone with parents."

In 1999, the academy said existing scientific evidence was "not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision," a position that was reaffirmed in 2005.

According to a statistical brief released in February by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the rate of male newborn circumcisions sunk to 57.3% by 2001. In the ensuing years, the rate hovered between 54.9% and 57.9%, until falling to a low of 54.5% in 2009, the latest year measured.

The AHRQ brief cited the AAP's position as a factor in the decline of male newborn circumcisions.

Another factor was the rising population of Hispanics, who are less likely than other racial or ethnic groups to have their baby boys circumcised. Also, 18 state Medicaid plans now refuse to pay for routine nontherapeutic circumcision, with Western states such as California, Oregon and Washington among them.

Circumcision rates vary dramatically by region, with 75% of Midwestern newborns undergoing the procedure, compared with less than 25% of boys born in the West, said the AHRQ report (www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb126.pdf).

Experts said the AHRQ figures may under-represent the prevalence of circumcision, because some circumcisions take place outside the hospital as part of a religious ceremony or in a physician's office. Nonetheless, the data can accurately show which way the trend is going. Growth of anti-circumcision advocacy

Opponents of circumcision have become more vociferous in the last decade, said Dr. Diekema, director of education at the Seattle Children's Hospital Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics.

"The rise of the anti-circumcision groups on the Internet is another influence," he said. "That's a voice that's very loud and very prevalent on the blogs. Every news article on circumcision that appears prompts hundreds of comments and blog responses, and parents read those things." [So why is there no Intactivist voice in this story?]

The rising tide of opposition to circumcision is not limited to the Internet. In 2011, anti-circumcision activists collected enough signatures to place on the San Francisco ballot a measure that would have banned circumcision for males younger than 18 unless medically needed.

But County of San Francisco Superior Court of California Judge Loretta Giorgi struck the measure from the ballot in July 2011, ruling that it would have interfered with religious freedom and illegally regulated medical practice. In October 2011, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation supported by the California Medical Assn. that prevents local authorities from prohibiting or restricting male circumcision.

Dr. Diekema said it is important for pediatricians to talk with parents about the risks and benefits of circumcision and take into account parents' religious or cultural beliefs about the procedure. [No mention of the child's human rights.]

The AAP's Task Force on Circumcision has submitted its report to the academy's board of trustees, which is likely to act by the end of 2012, Dr. Diekema said. He could not divulge specifics on the task force's work because it is under embargo while the board considers it.

However, Dr. Diekema said the policy on routine circumcision will probably shift away from strict neutrality because of new data about the procedure's health benefits.

How circumcision rates have fallen

Since the American Academy of Pediatrics adopted a neutral position on circumcision in 1999, the popularity of the procedure has fallen, from a high of nearly 63% in 1999 to a low of less than 55% in 2009. The academy is revisiting its stance in light of new evidence about the potential health benefits of circumcision.
Year Circumcision rate
1999 62.7%
2000 60.2%
2001 57.3%
2002 57.9%
2003 56.2%
2004 54.9%
2005 55.9%
2006 54.9%
2007 55.2%
2008 55.7%
2009 54.5%

Source: "Statistical Brief #126: Circumcisions Performed in U.S. Community Hospitals, 2009," Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, February (www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb126.pdf)


March 2, 2012

Male circumcision program suffers setback


Nairobi, Kenya (IRIN) – Kenya’s most recent male circumcision rapid results initiative failed to meet its target, and officials are stepping up efforts to identify and fix the problems that could foil the government’s campaign to circumcise more than one million men by 2013.

Conducted between November and December 2011, the initiative aimed to circumcise 70,000 men over a 30-day period, but results released in February show that only 40,000 men were circumcised. This is the first time the annual initiative – which began in 2008 – has failed to reach its target.

“We need to investigate the reasons for the inability of the program to reach its target. Maybe we need to change our communication strategy to be able to convince those men who are still not sure about medical male circumcision,” said Athanasius Ochieng, the voluntary medical male circumcision program manager at the National AIDS and Sexually transmitted infections Control Program. [And maybe the men are right not to be sure about it....]

Officials in the program attributed the shortfall, at least in part, to heavy rains in November and December that rendered many of the roads in Nyanza, western Kenya, impassable for medical teams running mobile circumcision clinics.

Kenya has the most successful voluntary medical male circumcision campaign in eastern and southern Africa; since the campaign began in 2008, about 395,000 men have been circumcised – most of these have been performed in Nyanza Province, which has the country’s highest HIV prevalence. The country aims to circumcise 1.1 million men by 2013.

While the program has been successful in convincing younger men to volunteer for the procedure, it has been a tougher sell for older, married men. Program implementers are looking at new ways of reaching this key demographic – many new infections are occurring within marriage.

“Involving women at the center of men’s decision-making and using already circumcised but married men as peer educators will help bring more married men to the clinics,” said Ochieng.

Beyond reaching numeric targets, officials are also concerned by signs that some men are resuming sex before the designated six-week healing period, putting themselves and their partners at higher risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Counter-productive behavior
A November 2011 study by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health found that 31 percent of 1,344 recently circumcised Kenyan men reported engaging in early sexual activity, usually three to four weeks after the procedure.

The research revealed that cohabiting or being in a marriage were the strongest predictors of engaging in early sexual activity.

“People’s perception about male circumcision can either help achieve the reversal of HIV infections or help to accelerate [transmission]. If you have a high number of people circumcised and they believe it is some form of full protection, or they resume sex while they still have wounds, then you have problems,” said Lucy Waweru, a psychology lecturer at the University of Nairobi. “Specific and targeted communication and messages must be developed to undo these dangerous thoughts. For me, these are serious challenges and could erode the gains made in reaching the set target.”

Waweru said lack of adequate counseling for girls and women could also potentially scupper the program’s goals. “It is true the message is out there, but there are those women who don’t have the information. This could make it very easy for a man who attends a male circumcision session alone to [tell] a woman that it offers full protection. That potential gullibility of women and girls must be dealt with,” she added.

A small 2011 Kenyan study found that more women than men felt HIV was a less serious threat after their male partners were circumcised.

According to Walter Obiero, the clinical manager at the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society, lack of information had continued to create barriers at the community level.

“Many men shy away from male circumcision – they tell you they cannot miss work for six weeks, meaning they believe that during the six-week healing period, they cannot work, yet this period only bars sexual intercourse,” he said. [That's what they tell you, but is that the real reason? Maybe they value their intactness.]


Health system concerns
Experts also fear that as the program continues to grow, the health system may not be equipped to cope with the demand for male circumcision. Today, only 200 facilities are actively offering it. Obiero noted there was a need to find a firm place for male circumcision within its healthcare priorities.

“Health workers are burdened and there are other priorities that compete. For example, a health worker will be wondering whether to circumcise a man waiting at the clinic or attend to a woman who has come for antenatal care,” said Obiero. ...


Samoa Observer
February 25, 2012

The circumcision man

A 68-year-old man, of Sataoa, accused of performing illegal circumcision on 23 boys from Saleilua, Falealili, appeared in the District Court, yesterday. Judge Vaepule Alo Vaemoa Va’ai presided over the matter.

Fale Itagia is facing 23 counts of actual bodily harm. Prosecutor Senior Sergeant Ken Komiti requested that the matter be adjourned so they can finalise the charges.

“We have twenty seven charges against the accused the number that is before the court is twenty three.”Mr Komiti asked the Court to keep Itagia in Police custody while they finalise their case. Judge Vaepule ordered the accused to be remanded in custody without bail for one week.

He, however, gave prosecution three weeks to complete their changes.

The matter has been adjourned until 28 February 2012.

Earlier story


February 23, 2012

Nigeria: Girl, 17, Flees Home Over Forced Circumcision

17-year-old girl, Miss Patricia Youmgbo, has been declared missing by family members after she reportedly fled home to avoid circumcision.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that the girl's decision to run away from home followed the death of her younger sister, Joy, after she was forced to undergo circumcision on January 15.

An uncle to the missing girl, Mr. Jonah Youmgbo, told NAN that Patricia had fled the family home in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa since Feb. 14.

Youmgbo said that the two sisters, who lived in Lagos, had came home in December 2012 to spend the Christmas with their grandmother in Amassoma.

He said that the girls' grandmother and some extended family members had ordered the girls to be circumcised before returning to Lagos.

NAN learnt that it was the decision of the family that led to the forced circumcision of Joy, a development that triggered the excessive bleeding that eventually led to her death.

Youmgbo, who lamented the death of the teenager, said that Joy, who was full of life before the forced circumcision, died from injuries as a result of the crude traditional practice of female genital mutilation.

He explained that the victim, suffered severe excruciating pains for days after the mutilation of her genital before her death.

Youmgbo said that medical reports obtained after the death of Joy, showed that the 15-year-old died of "Post Circumcision haemorrhage".



the Jakarta Globe
February 20, 2012

Govt Denies Plans for Mandatory Male Circumcision in Papua

Jayapura. Authorities in Indonesia’s remote Papua province say they have no plans to make male circumcision mandatory, despite media reports to the contrary.

“The government does not want to make male circumcision compulsory,” Constant Karma, secretary of the Provincial Commission and head of the Provincial AIDS Commission, told IRIN in the provincial capital of Jayapura.

“However, the government is promoting medical male circumcision as part of its reproductive health strategy, which includes HIV.”

Only about 5 percent of ethnic Papuans in the region — comprised of Papua and West Papua provinces — are circumcised, against 70 percent of non-Papuans.

According to Indonesia’s National AIDS Commission, HIV prevalence in Papua stands at 2.4 percent among 15-49 year-olds, against 0.2 percent in the rest of the country, where male circumcision is commonly practiced.

Karma’s comments came a week after local media reports cited Jayapura administration officials reporting plans to require all male residents to undergo mandatory circumcision as part of their efforts to curb transmission rates.


But making male circumcision mandatory in this predominately Christian area in the far west of the country once colonized by the Dutch would prove controversial.

Most native Papuans associate male circumcision with Islam, the majority religion of most Indonesians.

At the same time, some church officials continue to question its importance in curbing the spread of HIV.

“I don’t believe male circumcision significantly reduces the risk of HIV,” said Pastor Sadrak Simbiak, a prominent protestant minister in Manokwari, the provincial capital of West Papua province.

“Instead, people should focus on abstinence and being faithful to their partners.” [and CONDOMS]


Earlier story


The Local (Sweden)
February 19, 2012

Swedish docs in circumcision protest

By Clara Guibourg

Circumcision of young boys for religious and non-medical reasons ought to be banned in Sweden, urged the Swedish Paediatric Society (Svenska barnläkarföreningen, BLF).

In a statement submitted to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), the society called the procedure an assault.

"We consider it to be an assault on these boys," Staffan Janson, chairman of BLF's committee for ethical issues and childrens' rights, said to newspaper Göteborgs-Posten (GP).

Removing small boys' foreskin for reasons other than medical is controversial in Sweden.

After discussing the matter for several years, BLF has now concluded that the procedure ought to be banned on the grounds that the children are unable to form a decision in the matter.

According to BLF and Staffan Janson, circumcision is an attack on boys' integrity.

"It's such a complicated and difficult question, but even so, we've decided that this is a procedure to be done away with," Janson said.

"It's a mutilation of a child unable to decide for himself."

Not everyone agrees that circumcision is an assault, however.

"Parents decide things for their children all the time," Omar Mustafa, head of the Islamic Association in Sweden, said to GP.

"Allowing parents to decide over this matter isn't stranger than allowing them to decide whether their child is to be vaccinated or not," he continued.


WBTV (video)
February 16, 2012

Mother claims doctor botched son's circumcision

By Sarah Batista

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - A Gastonia mother is worried her three-month old son may suffer long term affects after undergoing what she calls, a botched circumcision.

When Christy Falls elected to have her newborn son circumcised, she trusted the procedure would go just fine.

But within hours of bringing little Josiah home, things took a turn for the worse.

"We got him home an hour after the procedure and noticed a diaper full of blood, I mean full of blood," said Falls. [A baby can afford to lose no more than 35ml - two tablespoons - of blood before his life is in danger.]

Falls immediately took the baby to the emergency room where doctors were able to stop the bleeding.

"They told me they had cut a vein, he told me that," said Falls. [More likely the frenular artery]

It's enough to make any parent cringe.

But as it turns out, what happened to little Josiah is not unheard of.

"We take every precaution to minimize that risk, but it can happen," said Dr. Jamie Lye, a pediatrician at Eastover Pediatrics in Charlotte.

Dr. Lye has experience in infant circumcisions.

He did not perform Josiah's surgery.

He says circumcisions can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections and penile cancer down the road. [Cold comfort when the baby dies of it.]

But there's no rule that says it's necessary and as with any procedure, parents should be aware of possible risks.

"It's something that we leave up to the parents to decide and our role as pediatricians is to help inform them of the risks," said Dr. Lye.

Josiah is still healing. [Josiah is lucky to be alive.]

Doctors don't anticipate any further complications, but Falls worries there could be some down the road.

She hopes other parents learn from her ordeal.

"I would do extra research, check all the pros and cons," she said.

WBTV is not naming the doctor's office involved because there's no evidence of wrongdoing.

Falls is considering filing a lawsuit against the doctor's office.


February 14, 2012

Nigeria: Women With Painful Lives- Female Genital Mutilation: The Silent Killer

By Ruby Leo

Agatha William (not real name) smiled at me during a lecture on the evils of female genital cutting. As Mr Anselm Okolo, the facilitator pointed out the dangers of encouraging the practice and the negative effects it has on the girl child, Agatha seemed amused.

Agatha turned to me and said, " I was also circumcised at age 10 and I don't think it is a big deal".


Agatha later confided in me and said, "I don't know what the fus[s] is all about, am completely normal, it has not diminished my desire for sex because am sexually active, though am not married I can't tell if it has affected my chances of having children.


But Bunmi's story is quite different. She said her mother and her elder sister mutilated her before her wedding when she was 16 to save her from the pains of losing her virginity during intercourse.

According to her, having sex is an ordeal, a duty to be preformed if one has to keep her marriage and have children and not done for pleasure.


A report complied by USAID, BRIDGE and PRB reveals that a discouraging trend has emerged in some countries where medical professionals are increasingly performing the procedure.


Ejiro Otive Igbuzor, the former executive director of Women Empowerment and Reproductive Health Centre (WERHC) speaking on the evils of female genital mutilation pointed out that the practice of FGM is performed in nearly all states in Nigeria.


In the North, Igbuzor said most girls are subjected to "Gishiri cuts", wherein the vagina is ripped to relieve obstructed labour or expand the vagina opening of a young girl in order for her husband to penetrate easily during sexual intercourse.

He lamented that Gishiri cut is a crude form of episiotomy but added that because the cut is usually done haphazardly, many girls have bled to death.



Radio NZ International
February 14, 2012

Samoan man investigated for illegally circumcising boys

The police in Samoa are investigating a man for unlawfully carrying out circumcisions on 28 teenage boys.

Most of the youths later needed medical care at the Poutasi District Hospital.

A senior nurse says the first seven victims were brought to the hospital last Friday morning when parents became concerned at the impact of the operations.

The nurse says the boys’ penises were septic and swollen.


The parents of the 28 victims had paid the man, who had no medical qualifications, 15 US dollars each for the circumcisions.


Slovenia Times
February 14, 2012

Catholic Church Condemns Ombudsman

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference expressed its support for the Islamic and Jewish communities in Slovenia, which have expressed outrage over the Human Rights Ombudsman's opinion that circumcision for non-medical reasons is a violation of children's rights.

The commission stressed today that the Ombudsman's statement, which had already been rejected by the Jewish and Muslim communities last week, was in violation of both Slovenian legislation and human rights, considering it a public call for disrespecting identities of at least two Slovenian religious communities.

The president of the commission, Maribor Archbishop Marjan Turnšek, moreover said in the press release that this was not in line with the Constitution and the religious freedoms act, as well as "a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms".

Turnšek claimed that the Ombudsman did not prove that circumcision would harm the children's health, and that it was not justified that religious circumcision had elements of a criminal act.

The opinion "limits religious freedom and the right to religious education of children" of Muslim and Jewish parents, according to him.

Turnšek added that the Ombudsman acted in violation of the religious freedoms act because it did not consult religious communities and churches before releasing its opinion.

The commission also said that circumcision for religious reasons was not forbidden in virtually any developed and secular country.

It called on all relevant state bodies to reject the biased opinion, which had been published by the Ombudsman at the beginning of the month.

[This contradicts the Catholic Church's official position on circumcision.]

Earlier story


the Standard (Kenya)
February 10, 2012

Review of post-election cases begins

By Steve Mkawale

A taskforce speeding up investigations and prosecution of 2008 post-election violence cases has assured victims they would get justice.

The team of 17 held its first meeting Friday at NSSF Building in Nairobi to unravel the 6,081 pending cases and pledged to be independent, fair and objective.


The team will review, re-evaluate and re-examine the status of investigations. It will also look at the cases that have been concluded, to re-open them if there is fresh evidence.


The process seeks to inject a fresh pace to unravel those who killed, burnt homes, looted, raped and forcibly circumcised people during the post-election violence in 2007-2008.



A recipe for genocide

Malawi Voice
February 9, 2012

Catholic Bishops Endorse Male Circumcision as HIV Prevention Measure

By Austin Kakande

The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), a college of all catholic bishops in the country, has endorsed government’s proposal for the adaptation of medical male circumcision as a mean for HIV prevention.

However, ECM General Secretary Father George Buleya said the endorsement is on condition that Catholics should be accessing the service in catholic health facilities only.

“We have taken this stand on the understanding that circumcision contravenes no Biblical teachings” said Father Buleya. The cleric said while they have adopted male circumcision, the Catholic Church was still against the use of condoms as an HIV preventive measure. [Murderous madness!] Various researches are agreeing that male circumcision can reduce HIV transmission by 60 percent, on top of reducing by 100 percent transmission of other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea and syphilis. Apart from that, it is also believed that male circumcision greatly reduces risk of cervical cancer in women.

Meanwhile, government says it would phase out antiretroviral (ARVs) with stavudine ...


February 9, 2012

30m [sic] girls await knife in Sudan

By Reem Abbas

UNICEF has stated that an estimated three million girls will be subjected to female circumcision in Sudan. The treasurer of the National Council for Child Welfare, Mr Gamar Habbani, called it a “massacre promoted by traditions” in a workshop led by UNICEF and the National Council on Tuesday.

It is estimated that 90 per cent of Sudanese women faced one of the four types of female circumcision until the late 1990s, with pharaonic circumcision, the most severe type, being very widespread. UNICEF estimates that about 140 million girls in the world, almost all in Africa and some parts of the Middle East had to undergo the procedure.

Reducing sexual desire?
Female circumcision is when a part of the female genitalia is excised. It is mostly practiced in North and East Africa in countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.

The Sudanese society believes that FC reduces the sexual desire of a girl and makes her pure and a virgin until marriage. However, it has many serious health problems and causes complications during pregnancy.

The first movement against FC was in the 18th century by a religious Sheikh named Hassan Wad Hossona. In 1946, Sudan, still under British administration, banned circumcision, however, the law has never been implemented.


Circumcision rituals "teach respect for women" ...

February 8, 2012

Mozambican woman 'was raped for walking in field'

By Johannes Myburgh

MAPUTO — A 35-year-old woman walked through a field in northern Mozambique, near where a group of teenage boys were undergoing their ritual circumcision into adulthood.

Accusing her of trespassing on sacred ground forbidden to women, the traditional leader meted out his punishment: He ordered 17 of his young initiates to gang rape her.

Four of the youths were arrested, but no trial date has been set, Delfino Jose, from Mozambique's unit for crimes against women told AFP. In Mozambique, many court cases simple fall off the radar and never go to trial.

The case has ripped open a searing debate about women and tradition, in a country lauded for advancing women in politics.


Award-winning health journalist Pedro Nacuo justified the gang rape in a column, saying the woman had repeatedly trespassed on purpose.

Hospital staff treated her like an attempted suicide case, assuming she knew the consequences of walking in the area, he said.

"The nurses... treated her as they would treat someone who deliberately steps in front of a car to be run over," he wrote in the state-run Noticias newspaper.



February 8, 2012

Kenya: Nation Leads in Abandoning Female Cut, Says UN Agency

By Kevin J Kelley

New York — Kenya has achieved the greatest rate of reduction in female genital mutilation among 15 black African countries, the United Nations Population Fund has announced.

Incidents of female circumcision fell by nearly 16 percent in Kenya from 2003 to 2009, the fund says in a report released on the UN's International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.

The survey also finds that younger women in Kenya are abandoning the practice at a faster rate than females in the same age group in the 14 other countries taking part in a UN-sponsored anti-cutting programme.

[The wording implies that it is the women themselves who choose to be cut.]

There is now a 25 percentage point differential in prevalence of the female cut between Kenyans aged 15-19 and Kenyans aged 40-44, the report finds.

"These encouraging findings show that social norms and cultural practices are changing, and communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls and women," says UN Population Fund director Babatunde Osotimehin.

The report notes that Kenya adopted a Prohibition of FGM Act last October.

It also cites public renunciations of female cutting by the El Chamus elders and by the Pokot community last year.


Sentaor thinks circumcision prevents congenital disease, spina bifida!

February 7, 2012

Thank you for writing. I rely on feedback from fellow Coloradans to be an effective legislator. Senate Bill 090, known as the Medicaid circumcision bill, would provide vital preventative health care for boys.

I understand that the issue of male circumcision is controversial because it is at the intersection of medical and cultural debate, and I respect the varying factors that must be weighed. However, reliable studies prove that male circumcision reduces instances of infectious disease, some congenital obstructive urinary tract anomalies, neurogenic bladder, spina bifida, and urinary tract infections.

[Neurogenic bladder is a lack of bladder control due to a brain or nerve condition. An internet search failed to find any studies, reliable or otherwise, proving that circumcision reduces its incidence. Spina bifida is a congenital condition. and by definition, neonatal circumcision can not prevent congenital conditions.]

A UCLA AIDS Institute study reports that if states opt to not cover male circumcision the rate of HIV in boys who were born into low-income families will likely go up. [Baby boys have sex?] Senate Bill 090 helps give those boys the same preventative healthcare as boys with non-Medicaid health plans. Organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are working toward the same goal abroad, giving to the Global Fund for AIDS prevention. The Foundation cites studies that say [voluntary adult] male circumcision reduces HIV transmission [from women to men] by up to 70% in non-industrialized countries.

Up until July 1, 2011, Colorado covered male circumcision under Medicaid, and while the programmatic cut will save the state about $186,000 yearly, we must recognize that preventative care is key to sustainable savings.

Thank you again for writing and expressing your opinion. Even though we may disagree, I value your input.


Senator Brandon Shaffer

Brandon C. Shaffer
Senate President
Colorado State Capitol
200 East Colfax, Room 257
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: (303) 866-3342
Fax: (303) 866-4543


Intermountain Jewish News
February 9, 2012

Colorado debates circumcision

By Chris Leppek

THE effort to restore Medicaid funding for circumcisions in Colorado passed its first legislative hurdle last week, with a 6-3 vote of the State Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

The Feb. 2 vote approved Senate Bill 12-090, titled “Restore Medicaid Funding for Circumcision,” co-sponsored by Senators Joyce Foster and Irene Aguilar.

The bill moves next to the Senate Appropriations Committee where it must pass before being debated in the entire Senate. It will likely be a month or so before Appropriations puts the bill up for a vote.

... last week’s hearing quickly became a verbal battle over whether parents have the right to impose circumcision on their male infants and whether circumcision is a helpful or harmful practice.


Many of the opponents’ arguments strongly suggested that intactivists are really contending for a California-like circumcision ban [age-restriction] in Colorado, rather than arguing a budgetary fine point.

State budgetary concerns were only marginally discussed at the hearing.

In the flurry of conflicting numbers and statistics, it was clear that the hearing was delving into technical territory that, even among many health professionals, remains unclear and in dispute.


ALTHOUGH the issue of religious rights was not even brought up at last week’s Capitol hearing, it is undeniably part of the debate, said Foster — the wife of Rabbi Steven Foster, emeritus rabbi of Temple Emanuel — in her comments to the IJN.

Many Jews and Muslims, and some Christians, see circumcision as a religious obligation, or at least as a cultural tradition. The fact that there is a national movement to ban circumcision can rightfully be seen as an abridgement of their religious rights, Foster told the IJN.

She pointed out that the prominent intactivist Matthew Hess, the author of an unsuccessful bill to ban circumcisions in Santa Monica, Calif. last year, supports a similar ban in Colorado.

Hess — the creator of “Foreskin Man,” a comic book that vilifies circumcision and that many readers felt was anti-Semitic – recently told local media that Colorado activists are seeking a legislative sponsor for a bill that would add male circumcision to an existing law banning female genital mutilation.

Foster told the IJN that some of the “pushback” she has recently received on the Medicaid-circumcision issue has included some “pretty mean-spirited” messages and calls that she suspects are motivated by anti-Semitism.

“I respect their perspectives, but I don’t respect their discriminatory comments,” Foster said.

“I think the ultimate goal of some people is to ban circumcision, period. Whatever I can do to enlighten the community with regard to prevention and fairness, and ultimately with regard to reducing medical costs, I’ll do it.”

Foster’s counterstrategy to the efforts of intactivists is based on the idea that taking a public stance in favor of circumcision now – through a reversal of the Medicaid funding cut – might help stave off later efforts to ban it in Colorado.

“I am primarily arguing on the basis of health and fairness,” she says, “but because of the potential ban in San Francisco and Massachusetts last year, as well as such efforts in other states, perhaps this can serve as a prevention of a potential ban in Colorado.”

While most Jews aren’t directly affected by the cut in Medicaid funding — since Jews traditionally call upon the mohel to perform circumcisions rather than Medicaid-supported physicians — Foster feels there’s a larger issue at stake.

“I don’t think it will really affect Orthodox communities because of Halachah, but we have to look out for everyone, not just for the Jewish community. We care about all people and we care about people’s rights.” [Except babies]


STA (Slovenia)
February 7, 2012

Ombudsman under Fire from Muslims for Opposing Circumcision

Ljubljana, 7 February (STA) - Slovenian Muslims have expressed outrage over the Human Rights Ombudsman's opinion that circumcision for non-medical reasons is a violation of children's rights. The opinion was also rejected by the Jewish Community of Slovenia.


Varuh clovekovih pravic RS ([edited] Google translation)
February , 2012

Circumcision of boys for non-medical reasons is a violation of children's rights
(Obrezovanje fantkov iz nemedicinskih razlogov je kršitev otrokovih pravic)

A complainant asked the Ombudsman to assess whether circumcision of boys is interference with the rights of the child, especially if it is done only for religious reasons and not justified on health grounds. The complainant considered that [such] interference [by] the Slovenian doctors is harmful but he does not know all the negative consequences (prejudice, subconscious trauma, impotence, infection, etc..).

Before preparing the opinion, we examined available scientific literature on the issues, [especially] the article by Damian Korošec, published in the magazine Lawyer, Volume 50 (1995) entitled [Circumcision - pointless] banality of surgery. Inquiries were sent to the College of Experts on General Surgery, the National Medical Ethics Commission of the Slovenian Republic and the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia.

... [T]he expanded expert committee for surgery ... sen[t] us the conclusion that the circumcision of boys for non-medical reasons is not medically justified. Indications for professional intervention are listed in the professional urological literature.

The Office of the Commissionfor Medical Ethics has sent us a long answer, which we summarize in its opinion of principle: "ritual circumcision of boys for religious reasons in our country, [for] legal and ethical reasons is unacceptable, and doctors should not perform it." In addition to the unacceptability of circumcision from an ethical point of view, the Commission also points out that it is unacceptable to [falsify medical documentation by recording a ritual circumcision as] medically indicated.

The Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia [w]as asked for information concerning payment [for] circumcision (annual number of interventions, the price of services) and how the issue of payment is arranged, if medical intervention is not indicated, but is carried out only at the request of the individual or his legal representatives. The Institute replied [to us] that [they have] no information on the annual number of interventions; the delivery price that society pays health care providers is €34.88. When intervention is not medically indicated, service is not covered by the compulsory health insurance, so [it is for] the patient or his agents to pay [for] the intervention.

... [We] decided to examine the situation with regard to some important issues of human rights and especially children's rights. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges States Parties to take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, while in the care of parents, legal guardians or any other person who care for him (article 19 CRC).

The Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia in the 56th Article [grants the] child special protection and care [under] the 35[th] Article as everyone is guaranteed the inviolability of physical and mental integrity. These provisions clearly show that any intervention in the physical integrity of children is limited and justifiable only for medical reasons. If there is a medical indication, that is, to protect the health of the child, circumcicision [may] be [performed]; such intervention is a legitimate and legal, and [the] permission [of] a parent [who] has responsibility for the child's development [is] required or allowed. If for any reason parents would not [allow an] indicated medical intervention, the competent authorities [may] determine possible dereliction of duty [in] caring for the child and take the necessary measures provided by law.

However, if medical circumcision of the child is [not] indicated, but is only [a] result of his parents' beliefs (religious or otherwise), such intervention has no legal basis. This [is so] whether [or not] the child is explicitly opposed [to] the intervention. Inter[ference with] the physical integrity of a child solely because of the desire of his legal representatives or guardians, therefore, constitutes an inadmissible interference in his body and is in our opinion the evidence of criminal behavior.

The Patients Rights Act (Official Gazette. 15/08) in [part] 26 stipulates that a patient who is capable of making prior free and informed consent is not permitted to [undergo] medical procedure or medical care, [without such consent] except in cases provided by law. For children, the Patients' Rights Act provides that, generally [over] 15 i[s] the ability to consent, unless the physician, according to [their] maturity assess[es] that it [i]s not [able]. A child before the age of 15 but under the law generally is not able to consent, with the doctor in these cases, estimated to be in this position. The Act specifically provides that a child's opinion regarding the treatment takes into account the extent possible, if it is able to express an opinion and if [he] understand[s] the significance and consequences.

The Constitution recognizes the right of parents, in accordance with their beliefs, to provide their children with religious and moral education. ... Guidance on religious education, in our opinion does not include the right of parents [due] to mere religious belief [to] choose to intervene in the child's body. We therefore believe that circumcision, for reasons other than medical, is not permitted and constitutes unlawful interference with the child's body and thus violates his rights.

... [P]arents are primarily responsible for the development of children's health, but also they must in all cases take into account the child's interest as a guide in decision making. Also, in deciding their rights [they] are limited by the rights of others, in this case, therefore, their children, ... . The right to religious freedom does not justify interference with the right to physical integrity of another, so we believe that circumcision for non-medical reasons, may only be [with] the child's consent, subject to the conditions provided for by law on patients' rights, therefore, usually after 15 years of age.



the Star (Kenya)
February 6, 2012

Cut' men warned

By Samuel Otieno

Researchers are calling for measures to discourage premature resumption of sex by newly-circumcised men after a study in Nyanza province found out that 31 per cent of men had not followed the recommended 42-day abstinence period. The researchers said resumption of sex before the wound heals could increase the risk of HIV contraction since it facilitates the transmission of the virus.

Researchers from the University of Illinois, Chicago, US and the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society and Impact Research and Development Organisation, also found out that men living with HIV have higher chances of infecting their partners if they do not follow the advice. “These findings highlight the need for innovative strategies to encourage men who seek VMMC services, and who are already involved in a sexual relationship, to abstain from sexual activity during the post-VMMC healing time,” says Amy Herman-Roloff, the principal investigator of the study. The research was part of the Male Circumcision Monitoring and Evaluation Study, funded by the Male Circumcision Consortium. The researchers analysed data on 1,343 men of 18 years and above.

Earllier story


the Jakarta Globe
February 6, 2012

Papua to Require Male Circumcision in AIDS Fight

The Jayapura administration is planning to require male residents to undergo circumcision in an effort to cut HIV/AIDS transmission rates in Papua.

Edison Muabuay, an administration spokesman, said the program was spurred by numerous studies worldwide that found circumcision to be an effective tool against the spread of HIV/AIDS. [No, by three flawed studies in Africa.]

The World Health Organization has said that male circumcision, performed by well-trained professionals in sterile settings, can reduce the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by 60 percent. [No, by "up to 60%" - or down to zero.]

“Therefore, the obligatory circumcision will be regulated in 2012, to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in Papua,” Edison said on Sunday.

There are 796 people with either AIDS or HIV on record in Papua, according to data from the Aids Handling Commission (KPA) and Health Department of Papua, including 335 HIV cases and 461 AIDS cases.

Of those cases 330, or 41.5 percent, are male, and 466, or 58.5 percent, are female.

“The worst is that the disease infects people of all ages and sexes. This number should be our concern and [we need to] take breakthrough steps. In Papua, we will require circumcision,” Edison said.

He declined to go into further detail on how the administration would compel males to report for circumcision, or what would happen to those men who failed to do so.

Details on how many men were targeted for circumcision through the program were unavailable as well.

The Health Department and Regional Public Hospital of Yowar in Jayapura have been ordered to provide the necessary instruments and supplies for the program, but will receive funding from the 2012 regional budget, Edison said.

“The instruments will be distributed among the clinics of districts because the program not only covers people in towns, but also villagers.”

According to KPA data, HIV/AIDS affects Papuans of all different backgrounds, from sex workers to housewives to even a handful of religious leaders.

“Those prove that the handling of HIV/AIDS is the collective responsibility of society, religious leaders, indigenous leaders, youths and also government,” Edison said.


IPP News (Tanzania)
February 4, 2012

NSSF members call for HIV awareness package

By Lusekelo Philemon

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has been asked to come up with a special HIV awareness package for its members, who are living in rural areas.


Dr Petronia Ngiloi from Tumaini Hospital said male circumcision shouldn’t be taken as an excuse of not contracting HIV.

There is a very wrong perception amongst men, who are circumcised that they won’t get the virus. This perception should be discouraged,” she said, adding that male circumcision provides only partial protection.

There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 percent.

WHO/UNAIDS recommendations emphasise that male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence.



Health Policy Solutions
February 2, 2012

Senate committee votes to restore Medicaid funds for circumcision

By Diane Carman

Despite the spirited testimony of seven opponents to routine circumcision, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Thursday voted 6 to 3 to restore Medicaid funding for the procedure.

A change in the long bill, the budget document developed by the Joint Budget Committee, dropped funding for the procedure last year, making Colorado one of 18 states to defund circumcision under Medicaid. Senate Bill 90, introduced by Sen. Joyce Foster, D-Denver, would restore the funding, estimated at $186,500 annually.

Foster told the committee that the bill was about disease prevention, fairness and “social justice.”

More important, she said, is that “it’s about parental choice.”

Dr. Jeremiah Bartley, a Brighton obstetrician-gynecologist, cited studies suggesting that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infections.

“AIDS is a life sentence,” he said, adding that any way that the disease can be prevented should be pursued.

Scot Anderson, a physicist who opposes funding for routine circumcision, challenged Bartley’s assertion that circumcision reduces the rate of HIV transmission in this country, saying that the studies Bartley cited referred to HIV rates in Africa where myriad other factors affect HIV transmission.

“In this country we’ve been circumcising children longer than 60 years and we have the highest rate of HIV of any developed country in the world,” Anderson said.

The United States and Europe provide a “huge database” on the relationship between HIV and circumcision, he said. About 80 percent of European men are not circumcised while 80 percent of American men are and Europe’s HIV infection rate is a fraction of that of the U.S.

Anderson also disputed the estimated cost of circumcision to the state, saying that, based on average costs and the number of procedures reported in hospitals across the state, the likely cost to taxpayers was closer to $4 million annually.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, questioned proponents about spending scarce Medicaid funds on a procedure that is not considered medically necessary and isn’t recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Should the money for the poor go to more pressing medical needs?”

Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, compared the procedure to routine mammograms for women under 50 and tests for Prostate-Specific Antigens – both of which are not recommended by medical organizations but are covered under Medicaid. [But let anyone compare male genital cutting with female genital cutting and all hell breaks loose!]

Gillian Longley, a registered nurse in Louisville, described routine circumcision of newborn boys as “elective, non-therapeutic, cosmetic surgery.

“It is neither medically necessary nor cost-effective,” she said.

Mark Filbert challenged the assertion that public funding for circumcisions was a matter of social justice.

“Nobody has said anything about the choice of the person on whom this is done,” he said. “I very much resent that this decision was made for me. … I don’t think state money should be used to potentially violate the individual human rights of men.”

Senators Ellen Roberts, R-Durango; Jean White, R-Hayden; and Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, voted against restoring the funding. Senators Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk; Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood; Linda Newell, D-Littleton; Mitchell; Aguilar; and Foster voted for the bill.

SB-90 will move to the Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

The Associated Press
February 2, 2012

Colorado may revive circumcision funding

DENVER—Circumcisions for Colorado boys could again be covered by Medicaid, a year after circumcisions were eliminated to save money.

A Senate committee voted 6-3 Thursday to restore circumcisions as a covered medical procedure for Medicaid recipients. If approved, the change would cost Colorado some $230,000 a year.

The procedure was dropped last year amid complaints that circumcisions aren't medically necessary and that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Several other states stopped paying for the optional procedure.

Supporters of covering circumcisions argued that the procedure has medical benefits and isn't purely cosmetic. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.


Digital Journal
February 1, 2012

Colorado Attempts to Reinstate Medicaid Funding for Infant Circumcision that the Legislature Previously Deemed a Waste of Precious Medical Dollars

Berkeley, CA (PRWEB)

The human rights group Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARC; http://www.arclaw.org) encourages Colorado citizens to voice their opinions on the fact that even though Colorado eliminated Medicaid coverage for unnecessary infant circumcisions last year, becoming the 18th U.S. state to do so, now members of the Colorado Senate want to reinstate funding for the surgery.

J. Steven Svoboda, ARC's Executive Director, said of the bill's sponsor, "Senator Joyce Foster has authored Senate Bill 12-090, which would authorize new spending at a time when the state of Colorado is seeking ways to reduce costs across the state’s entire budget. If Senator Foster is successful, she and her co-sponsors could cause Colorado taxpayers to be on the hook for as much as $186,500.00 a year or nearly $2 million over 10 years, an amount determined by the committee that proposed the elimination of infant circumcision from Medicaid coverage last year."

Dr. Susan Pharo, director of Medicaid and External Pediatric Care for Kaiser Permanente, called any medical benefit from circumcision “insignificant” last year after the cut went into effect. Svoboda added, "Medicaid funding for infant circumcision is inconsistent with medical evidence." National medical organizations around the world, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association (AMA) agree that there is insufficient justification for performing the procedure on newborns absent specific medical indications.

Responding to Senator Foster’s proposal to spend scarce taxpayer money on infant circumcision, Svoboda commented, “The current trend is for states to eliminate any Medicaid spending that does not directly benefit the recipients. Outside Colorado, infant circumcision is recognized by 17 other states as having no immediate benefit to infants with enough costs to warrant its elimination except in the case of medical need. Restoring funding to Medicaid for infant circumcision flouts this reality and wastes precious medical dollars at a time of decreased funding for necessary medical care and procedures. Parents can always obtain the surgery through Medicaid with the appropriate diagnosis in the rare instance where it becomes necessary; before then and for solely cosmetic purposes, it is wasteful.”

The bill's committee hearing will be held on Thursday, February 2, 2012.


Earlier story


January 31, 2012

Quarter of men resume sex before wounds from circumcision fully healed in Zambian study

By Michael Carter

Approximately a quarter of men undergoing circumcision resume sexual activity before their wounds have fully healed, Zambian research published in the online edition of AIDS shows.

Most of the men reporting the early resumption of sexual activity engaged in unprotected sex, often with multiple partners.

The investigators calculated that early resumption of sexual activity at this level could undermine the protective effect of circumcision against HIV at a population level. Indeed, if the proportion of men engaging in sex during wound healing increased to 30%, then circumcision would lead to more new HIV infections in women than it would avert.

“The prevalence of sexual activity and, in particular, risky sex during the wound healing period in the Zambian context is not trivial,” comment the investigators. “Even relatively small increases in early sex can have a deleterious impact on women to a point where new infections exceed averted infections in that year.”

A number [3] of randomised controlled trials have shown that circumcision can reduce a man’s risk of infection with HIV by approximately [no, up to] 66%. [This is one of the higher guesses.] It has been calculated [on the basis of 73 infections perhaps averted in less than two years] that universal male circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa could avert 2 million new HIV infections in the first ten years. Male circumcision programmes are therefore being implemented in a number of countries in the region with generalised HIV epidemics.

Zambia embarked on a national circumcision programme in 2007. HIV-negative men aged between 13 and 39 years are targeted in this programme and in 2010, some 61,000 men underwent circumcision.

However, the protective effects of circumcision suggested by randomised trials can be undermined by a number of factors. One of the most important is early resumption of sexual intercourse before the wounds from surgery have healed.

Men undergoing circumcision are therefore counselled not to resume sexual activity until six weeks have passed.

Investigators wished to establish how many men were having sex within this six-week period. They also wanted to see if any factors were associated with the early resumption of sexual activity, and if sex in the post-operative period would have wider implications for the impact of circumcision programmes on the prevention of new HIV infections.

A total of 225 men were interviewed about their sexual behaviour before circumcision and again six weeks later.

The men had a mean age of 21 years. At baseline they reported a mean of three lifetime sexual partners and 44% had a regular partner. Unprotected sex in the four weeks before circumcision was reported by 22% and 10% had been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past twelve months.

Just under a quarter (24%) of men reported resuming sex within the six-week healing period. Almost half (46%) of these men had sex within the first three weeks after surgery.

Moreover, 81% of men resuming sex during the healing period reported unprotected sex, and 32% said they had had unprotected intercourse with two or more partners.

Early resumption of sexual activity was associated with a higher number of lifetime sexual partners and unprotected sex in the period immediately before circumcision (p < 0.05).

“Identifying men who already engage in risky sexual behaviour when they present for circumcision and targeting their counselling according might be effective,” suggest the authors.

The investigators calculated that a 24% prevalence of sex during the six-week healing period among the 61,000 men circumcised in Zambia in 2010 would result in 69 more HIV infections compared to sexual abstinence for the duration of healing. Some 32 of these extra infections would be in men and 37 in women.

However, even with this level of early sexual activity, approximately 230 HIV infections would be averted.

Nevertheless, the investigators caution that resumption of sex during healing could put women at risk of HIV. If 30% of men undergoing circumcision had sex within the healing period, then more new HIV infections in women would be generated than averted.

“The study findings suggest that the prevalence of risky sexual behaviour during the wound healing period is high,” write the investigators. “Programmes need to continue to emphasise to clients the risks associated with early resumption of sex.”

Hewett PC et al. Sex with stitches: the resumption of sexual activity during the post-circumcision wound healing period in Zimbabwe. AIDS 26, online edition. DOI: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e32835097ff, 2012 (click here for the free abstract).


IPPMedia (Tanzania)
January 30, 2012

Child subjected to FGM now admitted to hospital

By Salome Kitomary

A one- year child (name withheld) in Hai district, Kilimanjaro region is undergoing specialised medical treatment at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) due to over bleeding caused by an illegal circumcision.

The girl was circumcised secretly in Ormolili village in the district recently, according to information issued by the Social Network for Educating the Society on the effects of Female Genital Mutilation (Nafgem).

... the child was circumcised by her own mother. The child’s grandmother, identified as Rehema and the mother are being held by police.

The child's mother, Magdalena Julius (19), said her child was suffering from stomach infections, as a result she couldn’t learn how to walk even after attaining the age of 12 twelve months.

She said some neighbours advised her to take the baby to a traditional healer. “I sent my child to her grandmother, who claimed in order for the child to be healed, she must undergo circumcision,” she said.

However, the grandmother of the child, Rehema Taraa, said she didn’t know anything about the alleged circumcision. “Soon after my daughter in law came back, I saw my grandchild so weary and stained. I decided to take her to Hai District Hospital, and then she was referred to Mawenzi Hospital,” she said.

Program Officer of Nafgem, Honoratha Nasua, said ... "We provide education and campaigns against such kind of practices and childhood marriages, we have a great challenge because nowadays circumcision is done secretly while babies are just months old.



January 30, 2012

CSI Mission - We Are Here to Save Lives

By Emmanuel Weedee

The President of the Firestone Natural Rubber Company, Mr. Dan J. Adomatis, has said a medical team under the banner of Children's Surgery International (CSI) is here to save the lives of Liberians. The CSI medical team, which arrived in Liberia Wednesday, January 25, 2012, is in the country to perform free medical surgical operations on afflicted Liberian children at the Firestone Medical Center in Duside, outside Harbel, Margibi County.


Commenting briefly on the ongoing surgical operations, Madam [Lora] Koppel disclosed that the penis problems are the most complicated problems, noting, they take much [more] time than any other operations.

She attributed the complicated problems to wrongful [botched] circumcision.



Not so new...

The Star (Kenya)
January 30, 2012


By Diana Madegwa

Forced male circumcision has become a new form of abuse among many others that go unreported for fear of stigmatization. The gender violence recovery center Executive director Grace Wangechi says many men go through physical and sexual abuse but choose [to] keep quiet to avoid ridicule from peers and the society which believes men should not [] show weakness.


Not even whether, but where and by whom

The Citizen (Tanzania)
January 30, 2012

One hacked to death in male circumcision confrontation

By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. One person was hacked to death here on Sunday and scores injured in clashes linked to spirited campaigns by traditionalists against male circumcision in hospitals. Already six people have been arrested and are being interrogated by the police over the killing which took place at around 3:30 pm on the material day at Enaboishu village near the city.

The regional police commander Thobias Andengenye said the clashes started when about 100 young men from the Maasai and Waarusha community stormed the residence of one person identified as Saiboku Milanyi (48).

The elder was reportedly being harrassed for his preferrence to take members of his family to medical facilities for circumcision rather than leaving the job to be carried out by traditional surgeons.

The RPC said one of the 100-plus morans which had invaded the 'boma' of the security guard lost life when he was stabbed to death allegedly by one of the family members as the two sides fought.

He was identified as George Sengeu, 25, a resident of Kivululu village which is close to the scene of crime.

Those injured included Mr Milanyi himself, Alphas Samwel, 28, and Geoffrey Saidi, 21. The latter is a Form IV student at Engoitoto Secondary School which is located in the vicinity. The regional police boss declined to reveal the names of the six suspects who are being held in connection with the bloody incident.

He added that they have launched intensive investigation to establish the cause of the clashes, the fatal one since a campaign agitated by morans against circumcision in hospitals started late last year. "We are trying to find out the root cause of the incident and establish who is to blame for the death and injuries", he said, denying that the police have been too slow to apprehend the culprits.

He pleaded to the diehard traditionalists in the Maasai and Waarusha communities not to take law in their hands by punishing fellow tribesmen who do not hire traditional surgeons to circumcise their men and instead took them to hospitals.


The Jerusalem Post
January , 2012

Ethiopian Jews confront psychological trauma

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich

While many former immigrants from Ethiopia suffer from deep psychological scars, state agencies have so far ignored issue.

Ethiopian Jews who endured the travails of reaching this country in the past few decades have more in common with Holocaust survivors than veteran Israelis can imagine.


Prof. Danny Brom, director of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma of Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem (www.traumaweb.org) never realized the extent of emotional trauma suffered by many of these immigrants until he met and hired social worker Asher Mekunnet Rahamim.


Many men, said Rahamim, were not prepared emotionally for the conversion process including ritual circumcision or a symbolic procedure releasing a few drops of blood and immersion in a mikve. They already felt Jewish, he said. Undergoing circumcision as an adult is a painful process [and it's not as a baby?] , and it is regarded by some as an insult to their manhood and can affect a couple’s sex life.

This was an issue mainly for the Falashmura, Ethiopian Jews who were forced to become Christians in their native country.

There are men who have become impotent as result of the process; then the man may suspect his wife is not faithful to him,” Rahamim said, noting that his own brother was “forced to get circumcised.”



Real headline: Cut Men Take More Risks

January 24, 2012

Kenya: Cut Men Have Many Mates

By Samuel Otieno

THE Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in conjunction with the National Male Circumcision taskforce have expressed concern over reports of multiple sex partners among those who recently underwent male circumcision.

Nyanza provincial director of public health and sanitation, who is also the task force chairman Jackson Kioko, said there have been reports that those who have been circumcised are taking it as immunity against HIV.

Speaking during the launch of the results of the third rapid results initiative on male circumcision, Kioko said the taskforce will conduct a study to ascertain post-male circumcision sexual behaviour. During the launch of the exercise, its critics including the Luo Council of Elders said the programme will be disastrous if not well packaged and the beneficiaries sensitised on its implication.

The council of elders argued that marketing male circumcision on the platform of preventing HIV was going to erode the overall goal since many men will take it as complete immunity. Studies conducted in Ra[k]ai in Uganda, Orange Farm in South Africa and Kisumu indicate that male circumcision can prevent HIV infection by over 60 per cent. The studies, however, warn that male circumcision should not be relied upon as a stand-alone intervention against HIV/Aids.


Daily Monitor (Uganda)
January 24, 2012

Baby dies after being circumcised

Residents accuse the medical personnel of discharging the baby before he regained consciousness.

By Enid Ninsiima

Kasese - Grief engulfed residents of Kasese Municipality when a three-weeks old baby died after undergoing circumcision. The baby’s mother Dorah Muhindo, said she was instructed by the health workers at St. Paul’s Health Centre IV not to feed the baby from 6am since the operation was to be done at 7am but it took place at 11am.

A relative, who preferred anonymity, said the child was discharged at 5pm. A medical source at the health centre said: “Imagine a three-week-old child spent more than eight hours without eating and no fluids were given to him, obviously his glucose levels reduced causing dehydration and eventually death.”

The parents said the child was discharged before he regained consciousness but his condition worsened when they reached home. The baby was taken back to the hospital but it was too late to save his life. However, health workers accused the mother of having breast-fed him before the recommended time.

A death certificate from the health unit reads: “The child died because of being breast-fed before he gained consciousness.” Locals wondered how a child would be discharged by a medical worker before gaining consciousness.


Residents have vowed to take the matter to court if the family drops the issue.

Within four months, four children have died at St. Paul’s Health Centre IV and Bishop Masereka Health Centre, after circumcision./p>


January 23, 2012

KENYA: Male circumcision - women need counselling too

NAIROBI, 23 January 2012 (PlusNews) - A small Kenyan study has found that more women than men feel HIV is a less serious threat after their male partners are circumcised; the study also made local news for finding that female partners of recently circumcised men found sex more enjoyable.

The University of Illinois' Chicago School of Public Health study of 51 young women - presented in December 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually transmitted infections in Africa - found that most women were happy with the appearance of their partner's penis and enjoyed sex more after circumcision.

However, the study also revealed that more women than men were likely to perceive HIV as a less serious threat - 51 percent of men compared with 76 percent of female participants, and to feel that condoms were less necessary following circumcision - 4 percent of men compared with 51 percent of female participants.

A greater number of women than men said after circumcision, they were more likely to have more than one sexual partner - 22 percent compared with 2 percent of men, and to have sex without a condom - 28 percent against 2 percent of men.

The study was conducted in Nyanza Province, home to the Luo, Kenya's largest non-circumcising ethnic community and the focus of the country's male circumcision programme. Since 2008, more than 350,000 men have been circumcised in Nyanza alone; the government aims to circumcise 1.1 million men by 2013.

The study's authors say the findings highlight the need to involve female partners in the male circumcision process, which has a strong counselling component, impressing upon men the partial nature of the procedure's protection against HIV.

"If women do not have a good understanding of the partial protection afforded by male circumcision against HIV, they may view circumcised men as 'safe' or even HIV-negative, just because they are circumcised," said Nelli Westercamp of the University of Illinois School of Public Health, one of the study's authors.

"It is crucial to involve women in the male circumcision decision-making, whether through counselling or public health education specifically targeting women. Couples’ counselling before the procedure would perhaps be the most beneficial for women whose partners want to go for the cut," she added. "It will not only clarify the concept of partial protection, but also could make a difference in the men's healing process and time of resumption of sex after the procedure, if the woman is involved and supports the man through the process."

According to Ronnie Asino, the district project coordinator for the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society, community outreach programmes target both men and women on all aspects of male circumcision. "We have community outreach programmes where we hold sensitization forums to educate people, including women, on the various aspects of male circumcision," he said.

Asino noted that married men were usually accompanied by their spouses and were therefore more likely to benefit from couples’ counselling before the procedure. "Unmarried men will show up alone and it is them whose partners are more likely to miss out on the counselling provided," he added.

[Aren't these issues that ought to have been addressed before embarking on mass-circumcision campaigns?]


Santa Cruz Sentinel
January 21, 2012

As Roe v. Wade ruling marks its 39th anniversary, reproductive rights still threatened, ACLU speaker tells Santa Cruz audience

By Jessica M. Pasko

SANTA CRUZ - Reproductive rights are better protected in California than in many other states, but that doesn't mean supporters should allow themselves to become complacent, Phyllida Burlingame of the American Civil Liberties Union said Saturday.

Burlingame, director of reproductive justice policy for the ACLU's Northern California chapter, was the featured speaker at this year's Pro-Choice Brunch, held annually by the Reproductive Rights Network of Santa Cruz County.

... Several members of an anti-circumcision group held signs outside the brunch, to draw attention to what they say is the ACLU's involvement in a lawsuit against a ballot initiative that would have banned circumcision of male babies in San Francisco.

"We're extraordinarily disappointed in the ACLU's stance on forced circumcision of males," said Jonathan Conte of Bay Area Intactivists.

"We want equal rights for boys and intersex children," he said, explaining that the ACLU backed the federal law banning the procedures largely known as female circumcision or female genital mutilation.

Burlingame briefly addressed the protests before her talk, explaining that the ACLU had opposed the bill because it fostered unnecessary divisiveness, and infringed on religious rights, among other reasons.

["Unnecessary divisiveness"? Since when was the ACLU afraid of divisiveness? And this at a celebration of Roe vs Wade?

Religions have rights the way corporations have personhood. They don't. People have rights to practise religion, but they end, as other rights do, where other people's rights begin.]

Earlier story


Times Live (South Africa)
January 22, 2012

Toddler's tragic death after circumcision

By Solly Maphumulo

A Johannesburg doctor has been jailed for 10 years after a three-year-old boy died following circumcision surgery.

Dr Charles Mdamombe - who tried to flee after the botched operation - was found guilty of culpable homicide in the death of Chinonso Onyenekwu at the Lister Poly Clinic in Johannesburg in January 2009.

The boy did not wake up after the surgery and Mdamombe failed to examine him despite repeated attempts by a nurse to alert the doctor to the boy's deteriorating condition.

Mdamombe also failed to ensure that the child had not eaten for six hours prior to a general anaesthetic being administered - and this resulted in him choking to death as the contents of his stomach pushed up into his lungs. [Since the circumcision was unnecessary, the circumcision killed him.]


Botya said another nurse had told her the child had stopped breathing. She reported this to Mdamombe who opted to finish his lunch before responding. He thereafter told her the child was "fine".

The nurse called him a further four times before he arrived and attempted to resuscitate the boy.

Mdamombe then tried to run away but the child's father, Douglas Onyenekwu, managed to nab him with the help of security guards. Police were called and he was arrested.

The 41-year-old was also convicted of practising without being registered with the Health Professions Council of SA.



ABC7 (Denver)
January 19, 2012

Circumcision Cuts Targeted By CO Lawmakers

Bill Would Restore Medicaid Funding

By Wayne Harrison

DENVER -- Circumcisions would again receive state funding under a proposal introduced by several Colorado lawmakers.

The bill would allow Medicaid to again cover circumcisions. The procedure was dropped from Medicaid last year as a money-saving move. Several states have stopped covering circumcisions amid concerns that they're not medically necessary. Colorado projected that it would save about $186,500 a year if it stopped covering circumcisions.

Colorado's bill was proposed Thursday by several Democrats. It awaits a hearing in the Senate. Click here to find out more!

Seventeen other states have dropped coverage for routine circumcisions under Medicaid.

Circumcision is the most common medical procedure performed on children in the United States, but is far less common around the world. According to data from the World Health Organization, 75 percent of men in the U.S. have been circumcised compared with 30 percent in Canada and 6 percent in the United Kingdom.


January 17, 2012

Kenyans circumcise girls in Tanzania to evade law - report

By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI (TrustLaw) – Kenyan parents determined to circumcise their daughters, despite the outlawing of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), are taking them across the border to Tanzania, the African Woman and Child Feature Service reported.

Traditional circumcisers from Kenya’s Kuria community crossed into Tanzania to cut a number of girls aged between seven and 15 during last month’s circumcision season, the report said.

FGM is prohibited in Tanzania but the law is not effectively enforced.

“Nobody will marry my daughter in the community if she is not circumcised,” one father, Wario Chacha, said in the report.

“I do not want my family to be a laughing stock. My girl will have to be cut no matter how long it takes.”

His 10-year-old daughter was one of 400 girls taken by local non-governmental organisations to rescue centres to protect them from being cut.

One in three Kenyan women is circumcised, despite the practice being criminalised in the 2001 Children’s Act.

In September 2011, Kenya passed the FGM Act into law providing for up to seven years in jail for anyone who commits FGM.


"Feasting like woodpeckers"? Warn the trees!

Red Pepper (Uganda)
January 16, 2012

500 Whoppers Sharpened

By Simon Kabbale

More than 500 men have had their whoppers circumcised in the ongoing Kamuli Safe Male Circumcision Campaign.

The drive that kicked off last month is aimed at reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Several health practitioners and organisations such as the world health organisation have supported circumcision arguing that it reduces the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS significantly.

However, men are warned not to take this for granted as they can still get infected if they live a reckless life. [Do they have to read between the lines to figure out that this means they must use condoms to protect their partners and themselves?]

Most of these men were heard bo[a]sting of how they are now going to feast like woodpeckers on a tight deadline as compensation for the lost time.


January 16,, 2012

Migrant girls 'at risk' of mutilation

By Neil Reid

An international study says "a growing number" of girls and young women living in immigrant communities in New Zealand are at risk of genital mutilation.

The practice - which involves the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons - is banned in New Zealand.

Any person who carries out the procedure, or orders it to be done to a dependant, may be imprisoned for up to seven years.

The Ministry of Health last year funded a series of workshops on the practice, with those present being told there was no evidence that the controversial female circumcision operations occurred in New Zealand.

It is a stance that is also shared by the NZ Female Genital Mutilation Education Programme - a community-based initiative partly set up in response to the rising number of women settling in New Zealand from countries that practise the procedure.

But a newly released United Nations report on a hoped-for global end to female genital mutilation states: "... a growing number of women and girls among immigrant communities have been subjected to or are at risk of female genital mutilation in Australia and New Zealand."

Under New Zealand law, it is illegal to send or make any arrangement for a child to be sent out of the country to have the practice performed, to assist or encourage any person in New Zealand to perform the procedure on a New Zealand citizen or a resident outside of the country and to convince or encourage any other New Zealand citizen or resident to go outside of New Zealand to have the procedure performed. The law was passed in 1996 and to date there have been no prosecutions.



January 15, 2012 (Video)

Protesters Rally Against Circumcision

Marina, Calif. Supporters of the movement to ban [no, to age-restrict] circumcision in San Francisco came out Saturday to protest the American Civil Liberties Union on the California State University Monterey Bay Campus.

San Francisco approved a November 2011 ballot measure to outlaw circumcision of minors in the city. But a judge took if off the ballot last summer, saying the city has no authority to ban circumcision.

Supporters say ACLU members, who were holding a seminar today near the Monterey College of Law, played a big part in stopping the ballot measure.

"We want little boys in this country to enjoy the same legal projection that little girls currently enjoy under federal law which prohibits any form of female circumcision or genital mutilation," said David Lane, an anti-circumcision activist.

The activists say they will not be able to get the measure on another [local] ballot, but will continue to protest circumcision until a law banning them is on the books.


Gant Daily
January 13, 2012

New research highlights link between female circumcision, mental disorders

New York, NY, United States (IRIN) – New data out of Iraq shows what many psychologists suspected though little research had confirmed: Girls who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) are more prone to mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Results of the research – conducted by Jan Ilhan Kizilhan of the University of Freiburg, an expert in psychotraumatology (psychotherapy for people who have suffered extreme trauma) – were published in the April-June 2011 edition of the European Journal of Psychiatry.

Kizilhan found “alarmingly high rates” of PTSD (44 percent), depression (34 percent), anxiety (46 percent) and somatic disturbances (mental disorders whose symptoms are unexplainable physical illnesses – 37 percent) among a group of 79 circumcised girls in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, aged 8-14, who did not otherwise suffer any traumatic events.

These rates were up to seven times higher than among non-circumcised girls from the same region and were comparable to rates among people who suffered early childhood abuse.

Last year, shortly after receiving the results of the research, Kizilhan said, the Kurdish parliament in northern Iraq banned FGM/C.

He told IRIN he hopes the results will also lead to more and better treatment of PTSD among girls who have undergone FGM/C, using special techniques which include the family in the process as much as possible.

The existence of FGM/C in the Middle East is less known than in Africa. Estimates of the prevalence of FGM/C in Iraqi Kurdistan vary wildly depending on the province, but surveys have indicated the overall figure could be around 40 percent. The region is home to five million people, but has just 13 psychologists and only one with expertise in psychotherapy, Kizilhan said.


The Observer (Uganda)
January 11, 2012

Circumcision promo failing

By Kakaire A. Kirunda

While there is high demand for circumcision services, it is not known how many men are undertaking the surgical procedure as part of efforts to reduce new HIV infections in the country, which stand at an annual average of 130,000.

When three scientific studies in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda produced the same findings in 2007 that medical male circumcision reduces by 60 percent the chance of HIV infection in men, UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation asked countries to use it in combination with pre-existing measures such as ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful and Condom use). Recent research has also added treatment and pre exposure prophylaxis using antiretroviral therapy among discordant couples to the current prevention arsenal.

It however emerged recently at a meeting in Kampala of the Safe Male Circumcision (SMC) National Task Force, that most of the institutions carrying out circumcision don’t share their data with the ministry of Health. According to the commissioner for National Disease Control, Dr Alex Opio, it is not possible to quantify the number of procedures due to lack of a comprehensive national report.

“During supervision visits, I have found that while circumcision is happening in very many places the data is not being shared,” he said. “And as national chairperson, I do not have a single figure on the great work being done. We need to address this immediately and at least share some data on who is being circumcised, location, age group and adverse events after the surgery, if any.”

Globally, use of data for evidencebased programming is increasingly taking centre stage in public health interventions. And with modelling studies showing what targets Uganda needs in the next five years, monitoring of data will be of significant importance. In the case of Uganda for instance, 4.2 million adult/adolescent men need to be circumcised in five years to avert 340,000 new HIV infections by 2025. [Or not.]

However, with most circumcision programmes funded using foreign aid -now on a downward spiral – there are sustainability challenges. For example, given a decrease in funding during the August - November period, Bugiri hospital did not offer any circumcision services. This was similar in Kamuli. As a possible mitigation measure, several speakers agreed that there is need for integrating circumcision services in the health system to ensure sustainability.


At the recent 16th international conference for AIDS and STIs in Africa, five international organisations launched a strategic framework for action to spur and coordinate efforts to circumcise 20.3 million men in 14 countries including Uganda in eastern and southern Africa by 2015. This was prompted by modelling studies that suggest that reaching, and then maintaining, 80-percent male circumcision coverage among men ages 15 to 49 years in these countries would prevent 3.4 million new HIV infections by 2025, saving an estimated $16.5 billion in HIV treatment costs. [Extrapolating from a total of 73 men...]



That's more than 83% failure.

The Observer (Swaziland)
January 10, 2012

Over 34 000 Swazi men circumcised

By Winile Masinga

OVER 34 000 Swazi men have undergone circumcision since the inception of the programme about four years ago.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Stephen Shongwe said the figures also included those of men who were circumcised during the Soka Uncobe campaign which ended last month.

When the Soka Uncobe campaign was launched it had been anticipated that about 200 000 males would be circumcised.

However, the figures reflected a shortfall of over 160 000.


Swaziland introduced male circumcision as an HIV prevention method and it had been seen to be reducing infection. [Where are the figures?]

Shongwe said circumcision had 60% chances of reducing infection of sexually transmitted illnesses.


“Male circumcision prevents 60% of HIV infections in men.


HIV Rates:

Circumcised men


Intact men


Source: www.measuredhs.com


Shongwe added that the ministry will now maximise on neo-natal circumcision, which was the circumcision of infants soon after birth. [Having failed with those who can consent, they move on to those who can't. There is no evidence whatsoever that neonatal circumcision has any effect on HIV transmission. And babies don't have sex.]


Earlier story


The Observer (Liberia)
January 4, 2012

Girl, 17 Dies after Circumcision

Reports emanating from Nimba County have it that a 17-year old girl has died after allegedly undergoing the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the town of New Yourpea.
The practice, according to anonymous sources, continues to spread across Nimba County, Northern Liberia.
Our sources also said the victim, Lotopoe Yeamah, died following a week of profuse bleeding from her mutilated wounds.
According to our sources, after the FGM process was performed in the Town’s Sande Society Bush, the girl became sick immediately. She was later rushed to the New Yourpea Clinic where she was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Those who allegedly administered the circumcision could not be reached for comment on the incident.
As a result of Sande Bush activities in upper Nimba County, many young girls are now school dropouts.
Principals and school administrators in almost every village and town in this part of the country have continued to complain about the effect of the practice on the education of the Liberian girl child.

Female genital mutilation is often performed by traditional “Zoes.” The practice is widely practiced in New Yourpea and other surrounding towns including Gblarlay.
Meanwhile, the chief Zoe of New Yourpea, Ma Beatrice Poryei Zah, anonymous sources say, has blamed the girl’s death on malaria.

Though chief Zoe Poryei Zah could not be reached by the Daily Observer for her side of the story, the practice of FGM has never ceased, despite government’s banning of the practice.
In September 2010, in the town of Zolay, several young girls were graduated from a Sande society traditional school. They were seen dancing with masks on their faces. The girls spent nearly three months in the bush undergoing Sande society training.


Was it a total failure?

the Observer (Swaziland)
January 7, 2012


By Hlengiwe Kunene

After months of an aggressive exercise to circumcise men, the Soka Uncobe ["Circumcise and Conquer"] Male Circumcision campaign that saw thousands [?] of Swazi men removing their foreskins free of charge is coming to an end in March.

The campaign began in 2010 and was supposed to end in September 2011, but PEPFAR, the main supporting partner, provided a six month extension.

The end of this campaign translates to job losses for dozens of Swazis that had been contracted to offer their services and push the circumcision agenda, it has emerged.


Explaining what Soka Uncobe was all about, the PS said it was an intense, time-bound campaign which would be followed by the integration of circumcision services in the current health system in Swaziland, including health centres, private providers and hospitals. He promised that the ministry of health would continue to implement programs of a similar nature in future. The Soka Uncobe campaign was conducted by the ministry of health through funds injected to Government by PEPFAR.

While Swazi men seemed to have welcomed the idea to get circumcised, all was not rosy in this campaign because of the many myths and misconceptions that are still associated with circumcision. One of the most common myth that emerged from nowhere and spread around like wild fire was that the removed foreskins are taken away to make spices, but the ministry of health swiftly moved to quell such talk.


The PS spoke highly of the ripple effects that circumcision brings, especially with studies showing that for every three men circumcised in Swaziland, one HIV infection is averted. “Male Circumcision prevents 60% of HIV infections in men. Circumcision as an HIV prevention initiative is an effective part of the combination prevention package. In addition, circumcision brings men into health care services where they receive risk reduction counseling, condom promotion and distribution and voluntary HIV testing and counseling”. [If the campaign is followed by a decrease in HIV transmission, it is those that will be responsible, but circumcision that gets the credit.] In another matter, the PS was not forthcoming with budget issues as he could not give out information on how much money had spent on the Male Circumcision campaign.


Ministry of health won’t say how many men were circumcised
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Stephen Shongwe would not give out figures on the number of Swazi men that were circumcised in the Soka Uncobe Campaign. All he could say was that “the campaign reached a significant number of Swazi men”. He said as a result of this campaign, the Soka Uncobe team is confident that the awareness created by Soka Uncobe would lead to the number of men to continue to make the choice to circumcise.


HIV Rates:

Circumcised men


Intact men


Source: www.measuredhs.com


January 3, 2012

Gambians told female circumcision is not religious obligation-paper

By George Fominyen

DAKAR (TrustLaw) – A number of religious leaders in Gambia have called for a ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) which is widely seen as an obligation for Muslim women in the country, Gambia’s Daily Observer newspaper reports.

Imams and traditional chiefs have joined women’s groups in calling for a law against FGM (also known as female circumcision), which they say puts women’s reproductive health at risk.

The centuries-old practice involves removing part or all of a girl's clitoris and labia, and sometimes narrowing the vaginal opening. UNICEF estimates 3 million girls and women are cut each year in 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The age at which the procedure is carried out varies from country to country.

In many parts of West Africa including Gambia, FGM has been presented as a religious obligation for practising Muslim women, leading most to believe that if they are not circumcised they are unclean and their prayers will not be heard.

Local chiefs in Gambia’s Central River Region said religion could no longer be used to justify FGM and they have given their public support to the campaign to stop the practice, the paper reported.

“We the chiefs would not have participated in these activities if they are not in the interest of our people,” said Malick Mbye, a local chief who attended a series of information campaigns organised by the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting the health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP) in the north of the country.

There is no specific law to protect girls from FGM in Gambia, but the government has said it will introduce one in line with the protocol on the rights of women in Africa which prohibits all forms of harmful practice against women.


Is infant circumcision legal?

Helsingin Sanomat
January 3, 2012

Circumcision assault case brings fine - conviction but no punishment for parents

Legal status of non-medical circumcisions remains murky.


Helsinki District Court imposed a fine on a man convicted of assault and battery on Friday for performing circumcisions on two Muslim boys. The parents of the boys were convicted of incitement to assault and battery, but no punishment was meted out.
         The man who performed the circumcisions said that he had done so thousands of times in Turkey and Iran. However, he lacked the licences required for performing such procedures in Finland.
         One of the boys suffered a painful infection.

Finland does not have legislation on religiously mandated circumcisions.
         In 2008 the Finnish Supreme Court ruled that religiously mandated circumcisions are not illegal if they are performed according to proper medical procedure.
        In its Friday ruling, Helsinki District Court stated that it would be a misinterpretation of the Supreme Court’s earlier decision to see it as authorising non-medical circumcisions

After the Supreme Court’s ruling, Finland has signed the Convention on Human rights and Biomedicine of the Council of Europe.
         Under the convention, procedures affecting a person’s health must be performed according to applicable professional obligations and requirements. Surgical procedures can be performed on someone incapable of giving informed consent only if there are immediate benefits.
         The court ruled that circumcision is a procedure that the person who undergoes it should give consent to. Another prerequisite would be that the person performing the procedure should be a medical or health care professional with a licence in Finland or elsewhere in the European Union.

The court sentenced the man who performed the circumcisions to 60 income-linked “day fines”, which in his case amounted to EUR 360. He and the parents were also ordered to pay EUR 3,000 in compensation to one of the two boys, and EUR 500 to the other.

The Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine was adopted at Oviedo in 1997. It has taken a long time for nations to ratify it.  

Chapter II – Consent
Article 6 – Protection of persons not able to consent
1. Subject to Articles 17 and 20 below, an intervention may only be carried out on a person who does not have the capacity to consent, for his or her direct benefit.
2. Where, according to law, a minor does not have the capacity to consent to an intervention, the intervention may only be carried out with the authorisation of his or her representative or an authority or a person or body provided for by law.
["Representative" presumably means parents. But does that "authorisation" inlclude whimsical requests? ]

Article 17 – Protection of persons not able to consent to research

Article 20 – Protection of persons not able to consent to organ removal

1. No organ or tissue removal may be carried out on a person who does not have the capacity to consent under Article 5.


[This suggests that no one in Finland may lawfully consent to a non-therapeutic circumcision of a child, and that organ or tissue removal - such as the foreskin - is unlawful. Given this, it is no longer clear that a non-therapeutic circumcision of a child may be carried out in Finland, even by a medical doctor.]

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